Hawk Rally Past Rider 55-54
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. – Monmouth, which trailed by 11 three times in the first half, rallied from a seven-point hole with 6:43 left in the game behind a 12-2 run, to claim a 55-54 victory at Rider University on Monday night in Alumni Gym in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action.
The Hawks, now 5-1 in the league, won their fourth straight road game. Monmouth, now 8-8 overall, was led by Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston), who scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the second half to spark the comeback, while adding four assists, three rebounds and two steals. Deon Jones (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School) notched 13 points and three assists for the Hawks, while Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) tallied nine points and four boards, and Brice Kofane (Yaounde, Cameroon/Miller School/Providence) added six rebounds and three blocks.
Monmouth, which held Rider to 21 second half points and just 25.8% from the field (8-31), trailed 50-43 with 6:43 on the clock, before a 12-2 run over the next 5:10 of action, gave the Hawks a 55-52 advantage, following consecutive Max DiLeo (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) fast break lay-ups. Leading by a triple, Monmouth chose to foul with 3.9 seconds left and Zedric Sadler connected on two free throws to account for the final score as Jimmie Taylor’s desperation heave at the buzzer rattled off the rim.
“I am very happy for my kids because I thought all of the guys fought for 40 minutes,” stated head coach King Rice. “We had a little bit of a slow start, and then really got it going and our defense was probably the best defense we’ve played all year. Happy to be with the Hawks.”
Rider opened up with a 9-2 lead on a Taylor corner three-pointer at 15:03, while Chris Brady’s (Greenlawn, N.Y./Harborfields) second short hook got the Hawks within 11-6 with 13:37 remaining. Taylor’s second corner trey pushed the Broncs lead to 14-6 and Rider claimed three 11-point advantages, as late as 7:02 on the clock, following a Matt Lopez basket.
Monmouth responded with a 9-3 spurt, which included a pair of Robinson baskets in the paint, and consecutive jumpers from Jones and Nicholas, to make the score 27-22 with 2:13 left. Taylor, who hit his fifth three-pointer of the half, pushed the Broncs ahead 30-23, before two Nicholas free throws and an Austin Tilghman (Wilmington, Del./Archbishop Carroll) drive got the Blue & White within 30-26 with 26 seconds left. The Broncs, who hit seven three-pointers in the half, grabbed a 33-26 edge at the break on Teddy Okereafor’s wing triple as time expired on the stanza.
Rider built its lead to 39-30 out of the break with 16:10 left, before consecutive triples from Robinson pulled Monmouth within 39-36 at 12:55, while a Nicholas trey got the Hawks within a pair, 41-39, with 12:09 showing. Monmouth, which trailed for 36:44 of game action, took its first lead with 1:39 left on the first of two DiLeo breakaway baskets.
Monmouth, which snapped a nine-game losing streak to Rider with the victory, connected on 41.2% (21-51) from the floor, and held a 26-22 edge in points in the paint, and 18-6 edge in fast break points.
Monmouth returns to action on Wednesday, January 14 when the Hawks host in-state rival Saint Peter’s University as part of the hOURglass Rivalry Series at 7:00 p.m., in the MAC.
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