Riverland Community College Blue Devils men’s basketball team downs Northern Essex 71-59 in NJCAA Division III tournament quarterfinals

After a win in Round 1 of the NJCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament in Herkimer, New York Wednesday, the Riverland Community College Blue Devils, the No. 10 seed in the tournament were looking to knock off another higher-seeded opponent Thursday, this time the No. 2 seeded Northern Essex Community College Knights from Haverhill, Massachusetts, and in a game where they never trailed, it was the Blue Devils prevailing by a score of 71-59.

Leading 9-4 to start the game, a 3-pointer from forward Savier McCall, a layup from DeWayne Thompson, a free throw from McCall, and a 3-pointer from Jourdan Weddle sparked a 9-2 Blue Devils run to give Riverland an 18-6 lead with 11:06 to go in the first half.  The closest the Knights would get the rest of the half would be seven points at 23-16, as the Blue Devils were able to boost the lead back over 10 points and led 37-26 at the halftime break.

Riverland kept the momentum on their side to start the second half, as a jumper from Christian Campbell, plus a 3-pointer from Campbell with 16:46 left gave the Blue Devils their biggest lead of the game to that point at 46-30, but the Knights were able to rally back with a 7-0 run of their own, capped off by a layup from Kyoya Sasaki with 13:45 left in the game to cut Riverland’s lead to 46-37.  The Knights were able to edge as close as two points at 50-48 before Riverland roared back with four free throws from Thompson, a jumper and a layup from Campbell, plus three layups from Nazih Chehade to go on a 14-4 run to push their lead back above 10 points at 64-52 with 2:44 left.  Northern Essex would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way, as the Blue Devils went 6 for 7 from the line down the stretch to help ice the win.

Riverland had three players in double figures in scoring, led by DeWayne Thompson and Savier McCall, who each finished with 21 points, Christian Campbell tallied 11 points, Nazih Chehade totaled nine points, Jourdan Weddle scored five points off the Blue Devils bench, Damar Jenkins chipped in three points, and Daeshawn Jackson scored one point in the win.

The Blue Devils are now 31-3 on the season, and the win moves them into the winner’s bracket semifinals Friday versus the No. 3 seeded hosts from Herkimer, New York, with tip-off at 7 p.m.