OT THRILLER: Men's basketball overcomes 16-point deficit, stuns Roberts for second straight win

Jeffrey Hayden drives during a stellar performance against Roberts Wesleyan on Friday.
Jeffrey Hayden drives during a stellar performance against Roberts Wesleyan on Friday.

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — The NYIT men's basketball team's season concludes Sunday short of a playoff appearance. The Bears are showing resolve to the end.

Coming off a win against District of Columbia, NYIT overcame a 16-point second-half deficit and defeated Roberts Wesleyan, 94-84, in overtime on Friday at Recreation Hall.

Jeffrey Hayden had a monster game in the victory, producing 35 points and 22 rebounds.

"That's what he's capable of," coach Kevin Hamilton said. "You really can't defend a beast like that."

Hayden certainly factored in the late-game heroics.

The Bears trailed 76-74 in the waning moments of regulation and were in danger of falling behind by two possessions with Roberts Wesleyan's Michael Bush at the free-throw line. But Bush missed both free throws and Hayden was fouled after collecting the rebound.

With the Redhawks having reached 10 fouls in the half, Hayden was sent to the free-throw line at the other end with 18.7 seconds remaining and a chance to even the score. He then hit the first of two free throws, but missed the second.

No matter. Hayden grabbed the rebound of his own free-throw miss and put the ball in the basket for a 77-76 lead.

Roberts Wesleyan had a chance to win it before the buzzer after Kieran Hamilton fouled Isaiah Lewis with 2.6 seconds remaining. But Lewis missed the first free throw before sinking the second and the game headed to overtime. NYIT then took command.

"It means a lot," Kevin Hamilton said about the victory. "When it's a tough season like this, the most rewarding thing is when you have guys who haven't given up and don't quit. From the youngest on the team — guys who emerged like Laurynas Stonkus and Luis Cartagena Jr. and Opong Bramble — all the way to guys I think are all-league players like Jeffrey Hayden and Kieran Hamilton, it's just so rewarding that they never quit. Jeffrey and Kieran are sick also, so I have a lot of admiration for how they played."

NYIT (5-24, 3-14 ECC) concludes its season on Sunday when it hosts Daemen at 3:30 p.m. The Bears will honor their lone senior, Domonic Josephs, in a pregame ceremony. Josephs had a double-double on Friday with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

"It was just very emotional in the locker room," Kevin Hamilton said. "It's the last practice with him tomorrow. And it's the last game Sunday. You could see some tears flowing."