Dukens Germain's jumper with two seconds remaining propels New Jersey Basketball team to 79-77 victory over Patriots in regular season finale

The Berkeley College (NJ) Men’s Basketball team rallied back from a nine point second half deficit to defeat the Patriots of Valley Forge Christian College by a score of 79-77 Thursday evening in Phoenixville, PA. It was the fourth consecutive victory for the Knights, who improved their overall record to 17-10 on the season as they look towards Wednesday’s USCAA National Tournament quarterfinal round game against Penn State Fayette. The Patriots had their two-game winning streak snapped, as they dropped to 14-11 on the year.

The Knights – who trailed 31-27 at halftime and by as many as nine points in the second half – found themselves down 73-66 with just 4:00 remaining in the game. From there, Berkeley College turned up the voltage and stormed back. In a span of 49 seconds, sophomore guard Hassan Abdullah would connect on a three-point basket and later drain a pair of free throws to pull his team to within two points. That was followed by a converted layup by junior forward Carl O’Neil. With 2:44 to go, the game was tied at 73 apiece.

Valley Forge Christian College would retake the lead when senior guard Antonio Malone would bank-in a layup to put the Patriots up 75-73 with 1:48 remaining. 22 seconds later, Berkeley tied the game when O’Neil dropped in a pair of free throws. With just 86 seconds left on the clock, the game was knotted at 75.

Patriots’ junior guard Kevin Mack would knock down the second of two free throw attempts with 1:16 left to put Valley Forge Christian College back up 76-75, but a layup by Knights freshman forward John Noel pushed Berkeley back ahead, 77-76. Later – with 25 seconds left -  Patriots freshman guard Tony Hazzard would connect on just the backend of two shots from the charity stripe, leaving the game tied at 77-all.

Following a 30 timeout by Berkeley College Head Coach Anthony Calabrese, the Knights let the clock bleed down as much as possible before sophomore guard Dukens Germain would connect on a jumper to give Berkeley a 79-77 lead. Valley Forge Christian College had one final chance to tie or win the game, but Lance Harris’ three-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark, giving the Knights a thrilling come-from-behind victory.

The game-winning basket by Germain overshadowed what had been a rather quiet evening for the Columbia High School product, as he finalized his night with eight points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Sophomore guard Andrew Tomlin scored a team-high 15 points for the Knights, while also adding three steals. Abdullah dropped-in 11 points, and Noel netted 10.

Despite the loss for the Patriots, Valley Forge Christian College was paced by Mack who connected on 10 of his 18 attempts from the floor en route to finishing with a game-high 26 points. He also snatched nine rebounds and dished five assists. Junior guard Jean LeBlanc dropped-in 13 points, while Harris and Hazzard scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The teams were almost even in all major categories. The Patriots connected on 42.6 percent of their shots from the floor (26-61), while Berkeley hit on 26 of their 65 attempts for the night (40 percent). The Knights’ 75 percent conversion rate on free throws (21-28) was slightly higher than Valley Forge Christian College’s, who nailed 72.4 percent of theirs (21-29). The Knights held a 40-36 edge on the glass, while the Patriots dished one more assist (13 to Berkeley’s 12) and tallied nine steals to the Knights’ six.

Berkeley College will next board a bus on Monday, as the team will travel to Uniontown, Pennsylvania to participate in the 2014 USCAA National Basketball Tournament. Berkeley College – who earned the No. 7 seed in the tournament - will square off against the No. 10 seeded Roaring Lions of Penn State Fayette on Wednesday evening in the tournament quarterfinals, with start time for that contest scheduled for 8:00pm.