The NJIT Highlanders (21-11, 8-8 ASUN) defeated the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (14-18, 9-7 ASUN) on Monday at the Alico Center, 83-78.
The win was NJIT's first ASUN Championship win in program history and first road victory at FGCU. The Highlanders also tied their program record for wins with No. 21 set back in 2014-15 (21-12).
Senior Diandre Wilson led the team in scoring with 26 points, followed by birthday-boy Zach Cooks with 25 points. Senior Abdul Lewis added 18 points and six rebounds in the effort.
Lewis (768 rebounds) also became NJIT's all-time leading rebounder, surpassing Tim Coleman (762) in the first half.
"I'm really proud of the way the guys came out and set the tone," head coach Brian Kennedy said. "I tip my hat to Florida Gulf Coast, they kept fighting until the end, which shows a lot of character from them, but I couldn't be more proud of Abdul [Lewis], Zach [Cooks], Diandre [Wilson] and my whole team."
NJIT hit the ground running with a 19-3 run over the course of six minutes midway through the half, which the Highlanders increased to an incredible 24-6 run over the course of nearly nine minutes.
At the 9:43 mark, Lewis made history, snagging his second rebound of the game to become NJIT's career rebounds leader.
NJIT gained a 20-point lead, its largest of the game with six minutes remaining, led by Cooks who scored a team-high 20 points in the first half.
"Zach has had a great year," Kennedy said. "I have all the confidence in the world in Zach and I always want him to shoot the ball when he has it in his hands."
However, FGCU ended the half on a 12-0 run, including a buzzer-beater from the perimeter to trim the lead to five at the break, 38-33.
In the second half, NJIT regained control of the game, hitting the gas with a 13-2 run over five minutes thanks to Gibbs, Wilson and Cooks.
The trio was unstoppable down the stretch, combining for 39 of NJIT's 48 second-half points.
"Most of our game plans are always to get the ball to the big fella (Lewis) to make the defense collapse and the guys really followed the plan," Kennedy said. "I did challenge Diandre [Wilson] at halftime and he responded tremendously…Diandre really stood up to the challenge to guard [Dinero Mercurius] in the first 15 minutes of the second half."
FGCU shot well from the field in the second half, but NJIT was lights out, shooting 71% from beyond the arc and 55% from the field.
The Eagles pulled it close down the stretch, hitting five-consecutive field goals, but NJIT held them off at the free throw line, knocking down 8-12 in the final minute of the game to earn the team's eleventh road win of the season.
Next up for NJIT, the Highlanders head to Nashville, Tenn., to take on No. 1 seed Lipscomb at Allen Arena on Thursday, March 7. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. (TV: ESPN+)