Monmouth Basketball: Hawks Rally To Edge MVSU, 81-79
Once trailing by 13 in the second half, Monmouth University rode Andrew Nicholas' (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) career-high 31 points, 23 of which came in the second half, and Deon Jones' (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School/Towson) career-high tying 24 points, which included the game-winner at the final buzzer, to an 81-79 victory over Mississippi Valley State in the Barclays Center Classic, presented by Continental Tire on Friday night in the MAC.
After Nicholas' fifth three-pointer of the night gave the Hawks a 77-75 lead with 1:28 left and a Jones' drive pushed the Blue & White in front 79-75 with 26 seconds left, the Delta Devils knotted the score at 79-79 behind back-to-back lay-ins from James Currington with 6.1 showing. Following a Monmouth timeout, Jones took the inbounds pass, drove the length of the court and rolled in the game-winner as time expired for the Hawks.
"They outplayed us for most of the night, they spread the floor and just drove us, but I am so proud of our kids," said head coach King Rice. "We didn't play our best game today, but the thing that we showed is that we fight, we keep fighting and we keep going."
Nicholas, who connected on five three-pointers, scored a career-best 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, while Jones netted his third 20-point game in the Blue & White with 24 points (11-of-12 from the free throw line), with eight rebounds and three blocks. Josh James (White Plains, N.Y./Archbishop Stepinac) added 14 points with four assists and four rebounds.
Monmouth, which outscored the Delta Devils 50-40 in the second half, hit 56.7% (17-30) from the floor and 6-of-7 three-pointers in the second half, en route to its second-half come from behind victory, the Hawks' second 13-point comeback win of the season.
MVSU built a 13-point advantage, 51-38 with 16:00 left in the game on Anthony McDonald's fifth trey, but the Hawks rattled off a 17-4 run to tie the game at 55-55 with 11:59 showing, as Nicholas drilled four threes in a 3:23 span. Monmouth grabbed its first lead on Max DiLeo's (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) three-pointer, 60-59, with 10:43 remaining.
Following a Jones wing three-pointer and a pair of free throws from Nicholas, the Hawks trailed 12-11 with 14:14 showing, while three straight points from James allowed MU to climb within 15-14 with 10:08 left.
The Delta Devils responded with five points from McDonald to claim a 20-14 edge at 9:14, and McDonald’s third trey of the half pushed MVSU in front 25-19 with 8:10 showing. The Hawks trimmed the deficit to 27-25 on another James drive and trailed 32-29 with 4:35 remaining after two free throws each from Jones and Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston).
MVSU answered with a 7-0 run over the next 2:25, highlighted by five points from Vacha Vaughn, to snare a 39-29 advantage with 2:10 remaining, before Robinson’s drive with eight seconds left pulled the Blue & White within 39-31 at the break.
MVSU was paced by McDonald's 26 points, behind six three-pointers, as the Delta Devils hit 45.6% (31-68) from the field and outrebounded the Hawks 40-34. D'Angelo Priar added 11 points, and Currington netted 10, while Jordan Washington added seven points, seven rebounds and six assists.
"We have eight freshmen on this team, I want them to be hyped about this win, I want them to be excited. We have felt bad enough after these last four games. I want them to feel excited," added Rice.
Robinson added six points, and season-best six assists for the Hawks.
Monmouth returns to action tomorrow, Saturday, November 30 when the Hawks host North Carolina A&T in the MAC, on the final day of the Barclays Center Classic, at 7:00 p.m. Longwood and Mississippi Valley State will play prior to the Hawks' game in the MAC at 4:30 p.m.
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Pre Game/1st Half
2nd Half/Post Game
Chris Tobin is a member of the Monmouth Athletics department