Recap: 2nd-Half Rally Falls Short In 86-82 Season-Opening Loss

Recap: 2nd-Half Rally Falls Short In 86-82 Season-Opening Loss

MAYS LANDING, NJ - Despite placing four players in double figures, the men's basketball team dropped its season opener 86-82 to the Bucs of Atlantic Cape Community College in Region 19 action on Tuesday night.

The Mustangs trailed by 8 at the half and by as many as 17 points in the second half. Still, the visitors nearly escaped with a win.

Kevin Woods scored a game-high 26 points for Montgomery. He also led a Mustang comeback, pulling his team to within 5 points with 7 minutes remaining in the game. Montgomery would stay close the rest of the game, narrowing the lead to just 1 point with under 2 minutes to go, and 2 points with 20 seconds showing on the clock. But the Bucs made key free throws down the stretch and avoided turnovers to finally seal the game.

The Bucs missed several three-pointers early in the game as the Mustangs built a 15-6 lead to start the game. Atlantic Cape eventually abandoned its outside game in favor of an up-tempo penetrating and passing game.

"We had good energy to start the game, but got too complacent after getting the early lead," said Head Men's Basketball Coach Denny Surovec.

The Mustangs shot 41.3 percent (26 of 63) from the field and 31.6 percent (6 of 19) from three-point range. Jalil Shafi registered a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while second-year player Nicko Balis connected on 3 of 7 from beyond the arc en route to 17 points. Anthony Patterson added 13 points, and Tyler Armstrong came off the bench and collected 10 rebounds.

Trey Jones and Dafawn Toombs each had 19 points for Atlantic Cape, which shot 50.8 percent (30 of 59) from the field.

Montgomery out-rebounded the Bucs, 46-36, committed six less turnovers (18 conmpared to 24) and made 72.7 percent of its free throws. Unfortunately it didn't add up to a win.

Following the game Surovec reflected on a missed opportunity for his team.

"We need to do a better job of taking care of the basketball," he said.

The men's basketball team hosts Rowan College at Gloucester County in Montgomery's home opener on Thursday night. Tip-off is set for 8 pm.

- By Bob Kent, Sports Information Director