By JUSTIN RIMPI
After sophomore Xzavier-Malone Key stepped to the free-throw line and made two of three, the Knights found themselves up 1 point with 30 seconds left in the second overtime Saturday at home.
Visiting Northeast Conference foe Robert Morris had its hopes and dreams crushed as Mike Holloway Jr. swatted away a layup attempt by Robert Morris guard Josh Williams. The ball was rebounded by FDU senior guard Darnell Edge who went to the line to knock down both of the shots to put away the Colonials, 97-94.
Edge was 6-6 from the free-throw line and the Knights hit clutch free throws down the stretch of the second half and both overtime periods. The Knights were 31-40 from the charity stripe, both their most makes and attempts from the line all season.
FDU’s season-high scoring output extended their winning streak to five games. The Knight get back on the court as they travel to play Sacred Heart in a critical NEC showdown on Feb. 7.
This victory brings the Knights record to 11-11, and 6-4 in the NEC while Robert Morris saw its conference lead whittled down to only one game. The Colonials left 12-11 with a 7-3 conference record.
FDU entered the afternoon conference showdown riding a four-game winning streak and into second place in the NEC standings, tied with St. Francis (Pa.) and Sacred Heart.
The Knights triumphed in a seesaw game. At halftime, FDU retired the No. 10 uniform of Lee Shulman, FDU’s all-time scoring leader (1969-1972) when he graduated. Shulman is currently No. 17 all time.
Shulman was joined by his former teammates on the floor before his No. 10 was unveiled and lifted into the rafters.
Edge led FDU with 28 points and tied his career-high scoring output on 6-9 shooting from behind the arc.
“It was a gut check and both teams passed the gut check. That was an epic college basketball game,” said head coach Greg Herenda. “Our kids gutted it out and Darnell Edge was huge, just very fortunate and proud to win that game for Lee Shulman . . . but for Lee especially we played that game for him. I’m just really proud of our basketball team and winning our fifth straight game and we had a good group of students that stuck behind us.”
The crowd of 610 at the Rothman Center on the first Saturday in February stayed until the joyful end and cheered on the Knights every step of the way, imploring them to victory.
The crowd exploded after a fast-break dunk by Malone-Key off a steal put the Knights up 91-87 with just under three minutes remaining in the second overtime.
Sophomore guard Jahlil Jenkins also chipped in 19 points to help lead the Knights to victory. Holloway Jr. and Elyjah Williams were the only other Knights in double figures as they both finished with 17 points.
The game would have gone into a third overtime if a last-second 3-point shot by Williams had fallen. The ball made two rotations around the basket before harmlessly dropping to the ground as the clock ran out. The Knights players, Herenda and the fans jumped up and cheered.
Once the final buzzer sounded, the team lifted Shulman onto their shoulders. Shulman was inducted into FDU Hall of Fame in 2001.
Late in the second half, Knights sophomore forward Williams found himself at the line down 1, but he was only able to make one of two and the game went into overtime.
With just under 40 seconds to play in the first overtime, Edge went to the line and put the Knights up 3, and it looked like the Knights would be able to close out their NEC foe.
Then, a 3 from Colonials guard Dante Treacy knotted the game at 87-87. Edge missed a runner as the clock expired and another five minutes was needed to declare a victor in this herculean battle.
The leading scorer for the Colonials was Josh Williams, a 6-2 senior guard, who finished the game with 34 points, 26 in the second half and overtime.
The Knights got off to a hot shooting start in the first half as Edge and Jenkins scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, on 64 percent shooting from the field and 71 percent shooting from downtown. The Knights entered halftime leading 47-38.
The lead quickly dissipated for the Knights as they found the game tied only four minutes into the second half. This blown lead was facilitated by turnovers by the Knights coupled by domination on the offensive glass by the Colonials. The Colonials finished with 14 offensive rebounds.