Monmouth 73, Fairleigh Dickinson 72, 2OT
HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) _ Corey Albano hit two free throws with eight seconds to play in double overtime and Monmouth staged another Northeast Conference Tournament semifinal miracle beating Fairleigh Dickinson 73-72 Monday night.
The defending champion Hawks (18-10) overcame a 20-point deficit early in the second half and a four-point deficit with 16 seconds left in double overtime to earn the right to play Long Island University on Thursday afternoon for the conference’s NCAA Tournament berth.
The top-seeded Blackbirds (20-8) beat fourth-seeded Rider 90-76 Monday night.
Quincy Lee had 23 points to lead Monmouth, while Mustafa Barksdale added 16 and Albano 14. Jermaine Slider hit seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points and Rahshon Turner had 12 for second-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson (18-10).
Just like in last year’s semifinals when they overcame a five-point deficit at Marist in the final 17 seconds of regulation to win 57-56, the third-seeded Hawks staged another improbable rally, coming back from a 72-68 deficit in the final 16 seconds.
Freshman Mike Perno hit a 3-pointer with nine seconds to go to close the gap to a point and Fairleigh Dickinson guard Elijah Allen, who had hit two free throws seconds earlier, was fouled immediately on the inbounds play. He missed both free throws this time and Albano was fouled by Andre Dasher after grabbing the rebound.
Albano, who was held to two first-half points, made both his shots.
After a time out, Allen took the inbounds pass, drove upcourt and missed an off-balance shot from about 10 feet. He fell to the ground and held his head in his hands in disbelief.
Turner had forced the second overtime, hitting 1 of 2 free throw to tie the game at 63 with 38 seconds left in the first overtime.
Fairleigh Dickinson scored the first five points of the second overtime but Monmouth tied the game at 68 on two free throws by Lee with 1:49 left.
Rob Norris put Fairleigh Dickinson ahead 70-68 with two free throws with 41 seconds to go and Allen made two more with 16 seconds to play, but Monmouth had another comeback left.
Monmouth scored the final 13 points of regulation to force the overtime, with Mustafa Barksdale hitting two game-tying free throws with 37 seconds left.
Allen drove down the left side of the lane and hit the side of the rim with about five seconds left in regulation. Monmouth called time out and nearly won the game when Lee’s 75-footer bounced off the backboard, rolled around the rim and fell out, causing nearly everyone in the gym to gasp.
Fairleigh Dickinson hit 17 of its first 29 shots, including 7 of 13 from 3-point range in opening a 43-23 lead early in the second half.
Albano hit two baskets to ignite a 13-point run that got Monmouth to within 43-36 with 11:56 to play.
The Knights then twice pushed their lead back to 13 points, the last on Slider’s 3-pointer with 4:57 to play. But Albano and Giedrius Aidietis each had four points in the closing 13-0 run.