It was a tall order for the men’s basketball team. Yet they had just the player to deliver in 7-foot junior center .
Matthews, the conference player of the year, was named Tournament MVP. Farmingdale State (22-5) earned its first conference title since 2009 and an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The NCAA bracket will be released Monday on ncaa.com.
"We worked hard all year at practice and went through a lot as a team," Matthews told Newsday. "But when it came time to play in the second half, we turned it up and got it done."
The victory also marked a milestone for Rams Coach Erik Smiles, who earned his 160th career win.
Senior guard Josh Smith, from Deer Park, also scored 17 points in the win.
The Rams took a 32-31 lead into intermission, then used a 22-4 run in the second half to secure the win in front of the home crowd.
Purchase upset No. 1 St. Joseph’s (Patchogue) in the semifinals Thursday night and then stopped in to watch the Rams rally to beat Mount St. Mary, 89-86, in OT. Matthews had 35 points and 29 rebounds in that game, including big plays down the stretch while saddled with four fouls.
Matthews, from Brooklyn, leads Division III with 25 double doubles.
Farmingdale State Women Fall: Mount St. Mary women's basketball team scored 20 straight second-half points Saturday to pull away from Farmingdale State, 58-43, to claim the Skyline Conference title in Newburgh. Jeannette Zubizaretta hit four three-pointers and led the Rams (15-10) with 12 points.
Note: Jason Molinet is an adjunct professor at Farmingdale State.