College basketball fans voiced support for Rutgers when the team was left out of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament but the Scarlet Knights failed to live up to the high expectations on Tuesday.
Hofstra upset Rutgers in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) 88-86 in overtime after the Scarlet Knights blew a five-point lead with 30 seconds left in regulation. Hofstra’s Tyler Thomas made a three-pointer to bring the game within two and Nelson Boachie-Yiadom hit the game-tying shot to send the game into overtime.
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In overtime, Rutgers’ Derek Simpson made a layup to tie the game with 32 seconds left. Thomas then came down and made a jumper to go up two points with 10 seconds remaining. Hofstra would hold off the Scarlet Knights’ last-ditch effort.
Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell thanked his seniors for showing up and playing their hearts out in a hard-fought game.
“I was worried (after Selection Sunday) and they came ready to play,” he said, via My Central Jersey. “It was a great college basketball game, I know we didn’t win, I understand that, but for these guys, a huge thank you.”
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Cam Spencer led Rutgers with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Simpson had 19 points and four assists.
Hofstra’s Thomas had a game-high 25 points in the win.
Rutgers’ loss came after an outcry about the NCAA Selection Committee leaving them out of the field of 68 for the Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was among the Rutgers fans who scolded the NCAA for the snub.
“#35 in KenPom rankings. Beat #1 seed Purdue on the road and nearly beat them again two days ago. And won against a number of strong teams during the season,” Murphy tweeted.
“Rutgers should have made the Tourney. Period. Full stop.”
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There will still be a rooting interest for Murphy as Princeton and Fairleigh Dickinson made the men’s field. Princeton and Monmouth made it on the women’s side. However, Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth are in play-in games to get to the first round.