GAME HIGHLIGHTS (VIDEO)| KENNEDY, BRINSON POSTGAME (VIDEO)
PLAYS OF THE GAME (Twitter Links): Walsh Buzzer-Beater | Brinson Dunk | Wilson Four-Point Play
NEWARK, NJ – Senior Reilly Walsh scored a career-high and game-high 21 points as NJIT outlasted Colgate University, 81-78, in overtime in the season-opener on Tuesday at the Wellness and Events Center (WEC).
But it was another senior that sealed the win.
Diandre Wilson scored NJIT's final six points in the extra session – including a go-ahead four-point play with 1:32 remaining to put the Highlanders up for good. Wilson, who played sparingly after missing most of the preseason due to injury, sealed the victory by knocking down two free-throws in the final 10 seconds of the game. The senior finished with eight points in 18 minutes.
With the win, NJIT begins a season 1-0 for the first time since 2016-17 and for just the third time in 13 seasons at the Division-I level. The Highlanders also take a 3-2 lead in the all-time series against Colgate.
"I'm just so happy for our guys and the NJIT community that came out tonight," said third-year head coach Brian Kennedy. "I'm really proud the way the guys fought. It was a whole team effort."
Walsh's previous career high was 15 points scored against USC Upstate on Jan. 6, 2018. The Staten Island native also set a career-high with five three-pointers while shooting 6-for-9 from the floor, 5-for-6 from deep and 4-for-4 from the line. He also added four rebounds, an assist, two steals and a block.
Sophomores Zach Cooks (19 points) and San Antonio Brinson (14 points) both finished one point shy of their career highs for scoring. Junior Shyquan Gibbs (10 points) was the fourth of four double-digit scorers for NJIT.
Brinson turned in one of the most memorable plays of the night. With NJIT down, 74-73, with 2:41 to go in overtime, he exploded off the baseline for a thunderous dunk. The Augusta, Ga., native scored 11 of his points after half.
"I knew coach had faith in me. It was just my time and I showed up," Brinson said. "I felt it [the dunk] was the key play in the end. We needed a little energy and to bring the crowd back in it. And I think that dunk did that."
Colgate was led in scoring by junior Will Rayman, a preseason All-Patriot League selection who scored 17 points. Junior Rapolas Ivanauskas had 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Sophomore Jordan Burns (13 points) and senior Malcolm Regisford (10 points) all scored in double-figures for the Raiders.
Senior Mohamed Bendary led NJIT in both rebounds (6) and assists (4) to go along with his five points.
The Highlanders held a lead for a majority of the game on Tuesday, but went cold late in the second half.
Gibbs hit an elbow jumper to give NJIT a game-high-tying lead at 68-59 with 6:17 to go in regulation. However, the Highlanders did not connect on another field goal the remainder of the second stanza.
Colgate closed the second half on a 7-0 run over the final 4:39 to tie the game and force overtime.
Actually, the Highlanders were fortunate to survive overtime.
Colgate sophomore Jack Ferguson – a 72.4-percent free-throw shooter a season ago -- had a pair of free-throws attempts with six seconds remaining to try and give the Raiders a lead. Not only did he miss the two shots, Colgate missed another two field-goal attempts following a pair of offensive rebounds – including a Ferguson put-back attempt at the buzzer.
Colgate struck first in overtime, but never extended its lead beyond two. That allowed for Brinson and Wilson to provide their late heroics to insure a 1-0 start to the 2018-19 season.
NJIT's only previous opening night victory against a Division-I opponent came in the program's first-ever game after reclassification – upsetting Manhattan, 56-55, at Draddy Gym on Nov. 11, 2007.
The Highlanders (0-1) next take to the road to challenge Binghamton University (0-1) on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Dr. Bai Lee Court at the Events Center.