NJIT Defeats Quinnipiac in CIT First Round; Cooks Drops 34 in Win

NJIT Defeats Quinnipiac in CIT First Round; Cooks Drops 34 in Win

NEWARK, N.J. – The NJIT Highlanders (22-12) eliminated Quinnipiac (16-15) in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) on Monday at the Wellness and Events Center, 92-81.

WATCH: NJIT MBB vs. Quinnipiac Highlights

Sophomore Zach Cooks scored a career-high 34 points on 12-20 field goals, including 4-7 from three-point range. Junior Shyquan Gibbsfinished with 15 points and a team-high seven assists while senior Diandre Wilson added 15 points. Freshman Souleymane Diakite pitched in off the bench with a team-high nine rebounds in his first game action since mid-February.

The win marked NJIT's record-breaking 22nd victory, the most wins in program history in the Division-I era, surpassing the 21-12 mark set in 2014-15.

Cooks and Gibbs opened the game with NJIT's first four buckets, setting the tone for a strong half of shooting from the field (44%). The teams were neck and neck for the majority of the opening 20 minutes, but an NJIT 9-2 run opened up an eight-point lead by the 14-minute mark, their largest of the first half. The Highlanders' ball movement created much of their offense, which featured nine assists on 15 baskets.

Freshman Kjell de Graaf, who earned his first career start, and senior Donovan Greer combined to knock down four consecutive three pointers as NJIT took a four-point lead into the locker room, 37-33. NJIT wasted no time in the second half, shooting 83% from the field in the opening five minutes. The Highlanders opened up a 20-6 run thanks to de Graaf, Cooks and Gibbs to earn an 18-point lead, their largest of the game. 

Quinnipiac chipped away and fired back with a 15-5 run with just under three minutes remaining to cut the deficit to single digits. However, a layup from Mohamed Bendary stunted the run and the Highlanders buried 17 free throws in the final two minutes of the game to close out the win and advance to the next round.

The Highlanders await their next opponent in the Second Round of the CIT to be announced soon. Follow @NJITHoops on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest news and updates.