Abdul Lewis Dominates in NJIT's Fourth Victory at the WEC

NEWARK, NJ – Junior forward Abdul Lewis hit a free throw with 14 seconds left to ice the game and the NJIT Highlanders (4-2) notched their third straight win for the first time in nearly a year with a 73-69 victory over the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds (2-6) on Tuesday night at the Wellness and Events Center (WEC) in Newark.
 
This marks NJIT's first ever win over LIU-Brooklyn and the Highlanders have now won four straight at the WEC.
 
Head coach Brian Kennedy's squad has won three straight contests for the first time since Dec. 22, 2016-Jan. 4, 2017.
 
Lewis' free throw came on the heels of the Blackbirds having two chances to tie the game at 72 apiece, but Jashaun Agosto and Zach Coleman came up short on triples that would have evened things.
 
The Highlanders led 72-66 with 1:32 to play before LIU-Brooklyn cut it to a one-possession game on a trio of free throws and had their chances to tie the game in the final minute.
 
The game was a back-and-forth affair during which neither team led by more than nine points.
 
After the Blackbirds' Joel Hernandez hit a layup to give the visitors the lead at 48-47 with 15:42 to play, Anthony Tarke converted a layup of his own on the other end to give NJIT the lead for good and kickstart a 13-3 run.
 
The Highlanders led 60-51 at the 11:25 mark, but LIU-Brooklyn wouldn't go away and a bucket from Raul Frias brought them within one at 67-66 with 3:51 remaining.
 
Lewis recorded a game-high 23 points and 18 rebounds to pace NJIT and both totals marked the second-highest of his Highlander career. 15 of the big man's 23 points came in the second half.
 
Junior guard Diandre Wilson added 16 points of his own on 6-of-9 shooting for the Highlanders.
 
The 18 rebounds for Lewis is also the second most in NJIT history, just behind the Newark native's school record 19-rebound performance on Jan. 19, 2017 at Stetson.
 
NJIT shot an even 50.0% (29-58) from the floor, while holding LIU-Brooklyn to 37.7% (20-53) shooting.
 
Hernandez and sophomore guard Julian Batts led a quartet of Blackbirds in double figures with 13 points apiece, while junior guard/forward Raiquan Clark added 12 and Agosto contributed 11 of his own.
 
With things tied at seven apiece in the early going, Lewis hit a layup to kick off a 10-2 spurt that opened up a 17-9 advantage for the Highlanders with 13:07 left in the opening stanza.
 
LIU-Brooklyn answered with a 27-15 run of their own that was capped by two free throws from Clark to make it a 36-32 game at the 2:13 mark. Donovan Greer's triple on the other end brought NJIT back within one and started a 9-2 run in the final 90 seconds that gave the hosts a 41-38 lead heading into the locker room.
 
The Highlanders will play their second of three Power five foes on Thursday night when they head to Morgantown to battle the No.19 West Virginia Mountaineers (6-1). Opening tip from WVU Coliseum is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on AT&T SportsNet.


Write-up courtesy of Joe Fitzhenry

 

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