NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- It took a free throw by Jhery Matos in the final seconds of the game, but the Monroe College men's basketball team picked up a thrilling 89-88 victory over an Our Saviour Lutheran team that came to play on Tuesday at the Monroe Athletic Complex. The Mustangs improve to 16-10 on the year with the win.
Clythus Griffith drained a three five seconds into the game to get things started on the right foot for the Mustangs. OSL then scored the next six points, but Ebrima Jassey Demba scored on back-to-back possessions to put the home team back on top. Both teams continued to trade baskets until the Falcons claimed a three-point lead at 20-17 with 11:49 left in the half.
The Mustangs responded with a 7-1 run to take a 24-21 advantage, and later used a 7-0 rally to go up, 35-28, with 5:21 on the clock. A seven-point run for the Falcons later in the frame made it a two-point game again, but the Mustangs rattled off 10 of the final 13 points of the half to take a 49-40 lead into the break.
More back-and-forth play to open the second half saw the Falcons draw within three at 61-58 with 12:52 on the clock. The Mustangs pushed their lead back out to 10 with 9:14 remaining, but OSL rebounded with a 13-0 run to take a 76-73 lead. Monroe turned things right back around with a 7-1 stretch, eventually taking an 86-83 lead with 1:55 left in regulation.
OSL got within two after Kyle Harding hit a free throw, but Harding later hit a three at the 1:08 mark to put the visitors in the lead, 87-86. Matos then drew a foul, making both chances to put the Mustangs ahead by one. Damien Chung Quit then got to the line for the Falcons, making 1-of-2 chances to tie the game at 88 with 24 seconds to play.
Matos then managed to draw a foul with 5.4 on the clock. The first shot rimmed out, and OSL called a timeout to ice Matos and draw up a play for a potential game-winning shot. Matos stayed composed and made the second shot to put the Mustangs up, 89-88, and then the defense locked down on the Falcons, barely letting them cross midcourt before they heaved up a shot that was no good, giving the Mustangs the victory.
Matos led the Mustangs with 23 points on the evening, adding four boards and three assists. Clythus Griffith tallied 17 points to go with six rebounds and four assists. Christopher Burkley added 11 points and four boards, while Deng Bol Yol picked up 10 points and five rebounds.
The Mustangs shot 54 percent from the field on Tuesday, while making 53.8 percent of their threes in the game. They held a 38-32 edge in rebounds as well.
The Mustangs get the rest of the week off before returning to action on Tuesday, Feb. 20, when they host Isaiah Christopher Academy at the Monroe Athletic Complex. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m.