MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Columbia Boys Basketball team escaped Montclair for a second time this season after a 60-57 overtime victory Thursday afternoon.
“Sometimes there are teams we don’t match up well with and I don’t know why that is,” Head Coach Eddie Turner said.
The win pushes the Cougars to 16-3 as they chase a conference title, while Montclair falls to a 12-10 record. The two teams met back on January 13 with Columbia edging the Mounties a 55-54 margin.
Senior Austin Little led three Columbia players in double-digits with 13 points. Junior Justin Martin added eleven off the bench and senior Andrew Ehringer chipped in with ten points and the game-preserving block in overtime.
Nijawaun Couram topped the scoring column for Montclair with 16, and guards Kabir West and Chinua Young hit double-figures as well with 14 and 12 respectively.
The Cougars had a lead of six points after the first quarter and hit the half by the same margin, 35-29. Montclair would battle back in the third quarter, outscoring Columbia 15-5 to take a four point lead into the final eight minutes of play.
“We defend so well it was just uncharacteristic,” Turner said.
Despite the third quarter lapse, the Cougars clawed back in the fourth as Little and Martin combined for ten of Columbia’s eleven points in the frame to take a 51-48 lead.
“They were outplaying us,” Martin said. “So we had to play tougher.”
That was the case until West brought the ball down the floor for Montclair and drilled a game-tying three-point basket from the left side. Columbia had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Ehringer’s contested shot in the paint wouldn’t fall.
A turnover by Columbia with 22 seconds remaining in overtime gave Montclair the ball trailing 58-57. A Montclair pick and roll would result in an Ehringer block for Columbia and the ensuing pair of free throws from Jamar Chavous would seal the victory for the Cougars.
“Andrew’s one of our smartest players,” Turner said. “He did a good job of laying back instead of hedging and he made a nice play.”
The victory was an ugly win for a Cougar team that upset Seton Hall Prep earlier this season.
“We won,” Turner said. “We found a way to win. That’s the one good thing we can take out of this game. We don’t get any style points.”
Next up for the Cougars is a home contest this Tuesday against Newark East Side. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.