The second-seeded men's basketball team beat No. 3 Mount St. Mary, 89-86, in an overtime thriller Thursday night. continued his incredible season, leading the Rams to the Skyline Conference championship game.
Matthews, a 7-foot junior center, finished with 35 points and 29 rebounds, adding another double double to his season.
Farmingdale State (21-5) hosts No. 4 Purchase on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. for the conference championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Purchase upset top-seeded St. Joseph (Patchogue).
The Rams are looking to win the conference title for the first time since 2009.
The first half was all about Mount St. Mary's, which led by seven going into halftime and looking like a better team than Farmingdale. In the first half, the Knights consistently got the ball to the open man outside the arc and for mid-range jumpers, neutralizing Farmingdale's big man in the paint, Matthews.
The only thing keeping the Rams in this game was Dyshaun Flournoy. Flournoy hit three three-pointers (3 of 5 from behind the arc) in the second half and totaled 23 points in the game.
At about the 15-minute mark Mount St. Mary went on a 9-0 run, forcing Rams Coach Erik Smiles to take a timeout and gather his troops. The next 10 minutes felt like a lifetime for this Rams squad as time was winding down the Knights went up by 11, their biggest lead of the game.
But Farmingdale kept clawing its way back into the game. With about 2:30 left down 75-70, the Rams switched up their game plan. Coach Smiles said: “The biggest moment was we came out of the full court press and switched to man-to-man and I felt that changed the momentum.”
Tight man-to-man coverage worked in Farmingdale's favor, just as it had all season.
“It has been our bread and butter,” Smiles said.
With Farmingdale down 78-75 with 30 seconds left, Robert Adon hit a three-pointer to tie the game. After a missed shot by Mount St Mary, Farmingdale had one opportunity left. But the Rams failed to convert and the teams moved to overtime.
In the first two minutes of overtime, Matthews didn’t have one shot attempt. But that didn’t stop him from making sure his team was not out of the game. Matthews hit four free throws in the final minute to put the Rams up by three and they never looked back.
Matthews, playing with four fouls, totaled 7 points in overtime and -- as he has done all year long -- allowed the Rams to walk away victorious.
Note: Reported by , a student journalist at Farmingdale State.