Highlanders Rally in Thrilling Overtime Victory Over North Alabama


NEWARK, N.J. – The NJIT Highlanders (17-5, 5-2 ASUN) completed a comeback win in overtime to defeat North Alabama (8-15, 5-3 ASUN) at the Wellness and Events Center on Sunday, 76-70. WATCH: North Alabama vs. NJIT Highlights Donovan Greer's game-tying three pointer with five seconds left sent the game into overtime where NJIT sealed the win after trailing for more than 17 minutes in the second half. "Even when we were down seven points with three minutes to go, no one panicked," head coach Brian Kennedy said. "Everyone knew it was a three possession game and the guys really showed great composure." Sophomore Zach Cooks finished with 21 points and senior Abdul Lewis collected a double-double on 17 points and 13 rebounds. NJIT overtakes North Alabama for third place in the ASUN Conference standings behind Liberty and Lipscomb. The Highlanders opened their scoring solely via Abdul Lewis and San Antonio Brinson, who collectively scored the opening 13 points of the game. Alternatively, North Alabama spread the ball and featured five different scorers as they took an early 17-13 lead midway through the first half. Greer made a pair of free throws and Cooks rallied with five points to spark an 11-0 run and take their first lead of the game by the eight minute mark. Diandre Wilson, Cooks and Greer each added a three pointer each, but North Alabama answered each basket with one of their own. Cooks, Lewis and Wilson each finished with eight points as the teams entered the locker room tied, 34-34. Lewis secured his third double-double in four games within the first couple minutes of the second half. However, North Alabama came out firing, shooting 50% from the field in the opening 10 minutes of the half to provide the Lions a cushion, which last most of the half. NJIT pushed in the final five minutes, applying full court pressure. Late offensive rebounds for the Lions burned time off the clock, but Cooks turned one of his three steals into a layup with 2:30 left in the game to cut the lead to four points. NJIT's defense forced a shot clock violation with just over one minute remaining and Lewis trimmed the lead to three with a free throw with 50 seconds remaining. The full-court pressure forced a travel by North Alabama, which turned into a thunderous dunk by Lewis to make it just a one-point game, 63-62, with 30 seconds left. North Alabama sank two free throws to extend the lead to three points with 12 seconds to go. Following a timeout, NJIT put the game in the hands of Greer with five seconds left and the senior answered with the game-tying three pointer to send the game into overtime. "Donovan Greer did a great job with [the shot]," Kennedy said. "Donovan's a senior and he's really been putting the time in in practice, he had a great game at Stetson and it carried over to tonight's game." Cooks opened the scoring with a layup one minute in and was answered back by a UNA three pointer, but the Highlanders would run away with it shortly afterwards. A pair of free throws from Lewis and a three pointer from Cooks provided NJIT the lead with one minute remaining and some strong defensive rebounding kept the Lions adrift. Cooks extended NJIT's lead to six with less than 30 seconds left as the Highlanders closed out the win on a 7-0 run in the final 2:30 to earn its eighth home win of the season. NJIT remains at home at the Wellness and Events Center in Newark, N.J., and hosts the reigning ASUN regular season champions, Florida Gulf Coast, on Wednesday, January 30 at 7 p.m. (TV: ESPN+)

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