By MARK LINDSLEY
(TEANECK) – The Rothman Center was electric for the Men’s Basketball game on Sunday, Feb. 11. The Knights were playing division-leader Wagner, the game was on national television and the first 500 fans who arrived received free “white out Wagner” T-shirts.
At the end of the night, the MVP for the Knights turned out to be a player who last suited up in 1975, Rich Conrad, #40. He was the inspiration for a 76-69 triumph.
“I really wanted us to win this game for Rich and his family,” Knights Head Coach Greg Herenda said. “He was a great player and his son Bobby is a student here.”
The Knights entered the game against the Wagner Seahawks on a two-game win streak. They rode that momentum, starting the game with a 12-3 run. Six of those 12 points were scored by Mike Holloway Jr., who was on fire throughout the first half.
The Knights went into the locker room at halftime with everybody was celebrating a 33-18 lead, and Holloway the retirement of Conrad’s Jr. already had 15 points jersey on the court, the mood and six rebounds. While in the Knight’s locker room was far from celebratory.
“A big lead is harder to deal with because it can lead to complacency,” Coach Herenda said. “When we went into the locker room at halftime, we weren’t celebrating, we were preparing. Wagner is a great team and we knew they were going to come out ring in the second half.”
Coach Herenda’s prediction was correct, and the Seahawks chipped away at the Knight’s lead until they were only down four with 4:48 left. But the Knights held on for a 76-69 win, led by Darnell Edge, who made all eight of his free throws down the stretch. He is second in the nation in free-throw shooting percentage.
Edge had 20 second-half points, and finished the game with 22 points, three assists, three rebounds and a steal. Holloway Jr. had 23 points, seven rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot.
Jahlil Jenkins and Noah Morgan also made major contributions to the victory. Jenkins had 15 points, four assists and four rebounds, and Morgan had 11 points, three assists, seven rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals, and was the only player who played all 40 minutes of the game.
Seahawks’ guard Romone Saunders put up an impressive stat line of his own with 25 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot, but it wasn’t enough.
The fans helped to energize the Knights throughout the game, and the team returned the favor. With seven seconds left in the game and the victory locked up, Holloway Jr. threw his hands up in the air asking the crowd to give one final roar.
During the last play of the first half, Coach Herenda also gestured for some more noise from the crowd. After the game was over he brought his team to the part of the stands where Conrad’s family and former teammates were sitting to show them the number 40 patches on their jerseys.
Coach Herenda later thanked the crowd for all of their support, but he asked for more.
“It needs to be like that every night,” Herenda said.
The Knights extended their win streak to four with a hard-fought 80-79 victory over Mount St. Mary’s Thursday, Feb. 15. Then, their win streak was snapped with a loss to St. Francis Brooklyn on Feb. 17.
With two games left to play and a berth in the NEC Tournament already clinched, the Knights will look to create some more momentum and improve their 11-16 record before the NEC Tournament begins. The last game of the regular season is Saturday, Feb. 24 at 4:30 p.m. at the Rothman Center against Bryant University.