Matthews Leads Rams to Championship Game

AJ Matthews
AJ Matthews

Farmingdale State - 89, Mount Saint Mary - 86 (OT)

Farmingdale, N.Y. - The #2 seeded Farmingdale State men's basketball team defeated #3 seed Mount Saint Mary College (20-7) in overtime tonight, 89-86, to advance to the Skyline Finals for the first time since 2009. The Rams (21-5) will host #4 seed Purchase on Saturday, February 25th at 7:30 p.m.

Mount Saint Mary jumped out to an early 10-3 lead, before an 8-0 run would give the Rams their first lead of the night, 11-10, on a layup by junior guard Ryan Davis (Flushing, N.Y.). The Knights would pull away at the end of the halftime, holding a 38-31 advantage at the break.

In the second, the Rams fought back a double-digit deficit twice and then made a 10-3 run over the final 3:15 to tie the game. Trailing 75-68, junior forward AJ Matthews (Brooklyn, N.Y.) made two free throws for a 75-70 score. Two possessions later, senior guard Dyshaun Flournoy (Brentwood, N.Y.) sank a 3-pointer with under two minutes to play, Rams were then down by two - 75-73. Mount Saint Mary saw a 3-point play from senior forward Kevin Milella (Floral Park, N.Y.) and pushed the lead back up to five, 78-73 with 1:30 on the clock.

Matthews made another layup for the 78-75 score and with 33 seconds remaining junior guard Christian Nunez (White Plains, N.Y.) shot a 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game at 78-78, sending the game into overtime.

The lead changed five times in overtime. Mount led by four, 84-80 with 2:57 left before Matthews scored his 1st of 7 points with a free throw, 84-81. He forced a turnover and made a layup, 84-83, Rams trailed by one. Freshman forward Ibrahim Johnson (New York, N.Y.) pulled down an offensive rebound on the next possession and would give the Rams the 85-84 lead with 1:04 to play.

Mount Saint Mary's Milella was fouled with 50 seconds left, making both to give Mount the 86-85 advantage. In the final seconds, Matthews made 4-of-4 free throws to secure the Rams victory and spot in the Skyline Championship game.

Matthews finished with a season-high 35 points, a school record 29 rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Flournoy had 23 points (6-for-9 from 3-point territory), while senior guard Joshua Smith (Deer Park, N.Y.) scored 16 points.

The Knights had four players in double figures. Milella tallied 23 points, sophomore guard Donte Howell (Baldwin, N.Y.) finished with 20 points, sophomore guard Joe Stabach (Staten Island, N.Y.) had 17 points and senior forward Carlos Valdez (Carolina, PR) had 13 points and 10 rebounds.