NJ Tech completes 0-29 season with loss at Utah Valley St.
OREM, Utah (AP)—New Jersey Institute of Technology coach Jim Casciano had seen this all before. In fact, he had to watch it more than any other Division I coach in history.
NJIT completed an 0-29 season Saturday with a 76-50 loss to Utah Valley State, setting an NCAA record for futility.
“You keep waking up and it’s the same thing,” he said after NJIT set a record for losses in a winless season in a 76-50 loss to Utah Valley State.
The previous low for an entire season was 0-28, set by Prairie View of Texas in 1992 and matched by Savannah State in 2005.
NJIT is on a 33-game losing streak, dating back to Feb. 19, 2007, and is one loss away from tying that record.
The Highlanders were also the only Division I team this season with more turnovers (577) than field goals (550). The futility led Casciano to resign Wednesday and had freshman point guard Jeryl Wilson considering a transfer.
“It’s been hard. I’m just hoping to forget about it in a month or two,” said Wilson, who lost just four games in a storied high school career. “High school was fun. This is completely the opposite.”
Wilson scored two points. He was one of five freshmen in Casciano’s rotation on Saturday.
Athletic director Lenny Kaplan has fielded more than 30 calls from people interested in replacing Casciano, who was 66-119 in seven years at the school.
Kaplan said a national search for a new coach will include information gathering for the next two weeks. He hoped to make a hire by the end of the Final Four.
Casciano has won more than 250 games while coaching at five levels of college—two-year college, NAIA, Division III, Division II and Division I. NJIT opened the season with a 70-28 loss to Manhattan, then Casciano took a 12-game leave of absence for what he revealed Saturday was a cancer scare, problems with diabetes and a bout with depression.
“If I hadn’t stepped back, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything,” he said.
Senior Kraig Peters scored 13 points in his final game for NJIT.
“You can’t let it get to you,” Peters said. “There’s a lot of stuff that’s five times worse than this. I would never regret playing here.”
NJIT played an ambitious schedule, including a game against Washington in the Preseason NIT. Casciano said in hindsight, the school should have scheduled the maximum four Division II opponents.
Instead it played none.
Ryan Toolson scored 22 points to lead UVSC (14-14). Toolson added eight assists for the Wolverines, who got 16 points and 12 rebounds from Jordan Brady.
NJIT started Saturday’s game well, with Tyler Epps hitting a 3-pointer on the first possession. The Highlanders led 6-5 after Peters added another 3-pointer. But UVSC went on a decisive 20-4 run for a 15-point lead.
NJIT cut the lead to eight points but never got closer after UVSC’s Josh Olsen scored seven points in a 12-3 run for UVSC.
Olsen finished with 13 points and six assists. Toolson scored 14 straight at one point for UVSC, getting seven before halftime and seven more at the beginning of the second half as the Wolverines pulled away for good.
The highlight for NJIT was a short stretch early in the second half when Nesho Milosevic converted a three-point play that was followed by a four-point play by Peters.
The start of the game was pushed back one hour because bad weather on the east coast delayed NJIT’s flight. The Highlanders arrived at their hotel Saturday at 2:30 a.m. EST. The game tipped off at 5 p.m. EST.
NJIT is 5-53 since moving to Division I.