Historic Year Comes To A Close: NJIT’s Season Ends in CIT Quarterfinals

Historic Year Comes To A Close: NJIT’s Season Ends in CIT Quarterfinals

NEWARK, N.J. – The NJIT Highlanders (22-13) fell to the Hampton Pirates (18-16) in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) Quarterfinals at the Wellness and Events Center on Thursday night, 82-70. Zach Cooks led the team in scoring with 22 points followed by senior Diandre Wilson with 12 points.


"We came out sluggish in the first half – we just weren't executing on offense and defensively we were just a little out of sync," head coach Brian Kennedy said. "We started to fight in the second half, especially the last 15 minutes of the game, but at that point in time it was too big of a margin to overcome."

NJIT's season ends following the most wins (22), regular-season wins (20), first ASUN Championship win (at FGCU) and the most road wins (11) in program history.

Hampton started the game hitting 6-9 from the field to jump out to an early 10-point lead, which they would maintain the remainder of the first half.

The Pirates, outshot NJIT from the field, 55-33%, with Cooks leading the team in scoring with nine points.

Hampton extended its lead to as large as 19 points before NJIT answered with a 6-0 run, but the Pirates ended the half strong to take a 15-point lead into the locker room, 41-26.

Hampton kept it rolling early in the second half, gaining its largest lead of the game at 22 points in the opening three minutes.

However, NJIT slowly chipped away at the lead and battled back with a 11-4 run midway through the half.

The Highlanders applied the full-court press and stepped up on defense, powered by a pair of blocks from Souleymane Diakite, as they trimmed the deficit to 13 points with seven minutes remaining and gained the momentum.

An 11-3 run, powered primarily by Cooks and Wilson, cut the deficit to nine points at the five-minute mark thanks to an and-one bucket from the senior.

As soon as Hampton answered with a jumper, Wilson responded with a three pointer as the lead shrank to eight points with three and half minutes to play.

Hampton fired back with a pair of buckets and Wilson again answered with a layup, but NJIT was forced to begin fouling with 1:42 remaining.

Donovan Greer knocked down a three pointer with 58 seconds remaining to trim the lead to eight points, but Hampton finished off the game at the free throw line to advance to the CIT Semifinals.

"We're playing without our best player Abdul Lewis…but the CIT's great because it gave our young kids a chance to play," Kennedy said. "We just wrapped up the most successful season in NJIT history so while nobody's satisfied with a loss, just to take a step back and look at the whole picture, it was a satisfying year."