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BY DANIEL JEAN-LUBIN | New York University’s men’s basketball team saw their season come to an end at home in a 74-66 loss to neighbors from across the Hudson, New Jersey City University, in the quarterfinals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III Metro Championship Tournament on Wed., Feb. 27.
Entering the game, the third-seeded N.Y.U. Violets (15-11) carried a streak of at least one postseason win in each of their last five ECAC tournament appearances. Their opponents, the sixth-seeded New Jersey City Gothic Knights (15-12), led by Khalid Muhammad, Rookie of the Year of the New Jersey Athletic Conference, looked poised for an upset.
The Violets opened the first half with a quick jumper from center Devin Karch, but Muhammad quickly responded for the Knights with a wide-open 3 to give New Jersey an early lead. The teams traded baskets for most of the first half.
The Gothic Knights managed to maintain their slim lead until the Violets’ leading scorer, Carl Yaffe, hit a midrange jump shot at the 9:50 mark to put N.Y.U. up 16-15. N.Y.U. then increased their lead after two Karch free throws. This began a 7-1 run for N.Y.U. as a timely 3 from Max Wein and a jumper from Yaffe put the Violets ahead 23-16 with 5:05 left in the first half.
But New Jersey City responded with four straight points after a deft steal by Asmar Edwards led to a fast-break layup and cut the lead to just 3 points. The Violets showed great poise and responded with their own offensive salvo; scoring 5 straight points, they ended the half up 28-23.
The second stanza began as the first did with both teams exchanging quick field goals. Gothic Knights’ forward Drew Marley produced the second tie of the game, 32-32, on a smooth layup at 15:53.
A 3 from Muhammad — his first of four in the half — gave New Jersey their first lead since the 9:51 mark of the first half. The Knights would never look back, however, as they scored four consecutive points and led 39-32.
N.Y.U. returned to the scoreboard on a converted free throw, hoping to end the Knights’ run, but Muhammad quickly snuffed out all hope, scoring 8 points, including two 3’s in the span of about a minute.
Muhammad’s fourth 3 of the half practically sealed the game for the Gothic Knights as they led by 14 with 5:32 remaining. N.Y.U.’s Iyoha Agho would cut the lead to 6 points, 67-61, on a 4-point play, with 2:09 left in regulation, but that would be as close as the Violets would get, losing 74-66.
Muhammad led all scorers with 23 points. He also had two assists and two steals. Yaffe led N.Y.U. with 18 points. Yaffe ends his N.Y.U. career ranking fifth all time in school scoring with 1,365 points.