Monmouth Edges Fairfield 60-59
BRIDGEPORT, CONN. – Deon Jones (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School) scored a game-high 18 points, and Zac Tillman (Yeadon, Pa./Shipley School) tallied a season-best 14 points, while Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston), who went 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final four minutes, en route to 12 points, led Monmouth to a 60-59 victory over Fairfield at Webster Bank Arena in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action on Friday night. With the victory, Monmouth, 5-1 in MAAC road games, improved to 12-10 overall and 8-3 in the league.
“Give Fairfield a lot of credit because Sydney [Johnson] had them prepared. He really does a great job and they continued to fight even when we got a lead,” stated head coach King Rice. “But this is a night about us. Our kids are growing up right in front of us and they are able to stick together in tough situations so we can come out with wins. I am proud of my kids’ effort and we will definitely be shooting a lot of free throws tomorrow.[Monmouth went 14-23 from the free throw line].”
Jones, who added six rebounds, hit 8-of-13 from the field, while Tillman went 6-of-7 for his third career double-figure game and added a pair of blocks. The Hawks, who connected on 56.0% (14-25) in the first half, shot 47.8% overall, while holding Fairfield to 38.9% (21-54), marking the 11th opponent Monmouth has held under 40% in a game.
Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York), who played in his 100th career game for the Blue & White, notched seven rebounds, while Max DiLeo (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) tallied five points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
The Hawks grabbed a nine-point lead out of the lockerroom on a Jones baseline drive and pushed their lead to a game-high 11, 39-28, with 14:47 left on a Nicholas three-pointer. The Stags retaliated with a 9-0 run to get within 39-37 with 10:39 showing and tied the game at 47-47 with 4:06 left following a 10-4 spurt.
A pair of Robinson free throws at the 4:00 mark pushed Monmouth back in front for good, 49-47, which was followed by a DiLeo basket, giving the Hawks a four-point edge with 3:27remaining. Leading 51-49 with 2:58 on the board, four straight free throws from Robinson gave MU a 55-49 edge with 1:01 left, while two Austin Tilghman (Wilmington, Del./Archbishop Carroll) foul shots had the Hawks in front 57-51 with 19.7 ticks remaining.
Following a three-pointer from Marcus Gilbert, which cut the MU lead to 57-54 with 14 seconds left, Robinson connected on his seventh and eighth consecutive free throws to give the Hawks a 59-54 edge with 11.7 left.
A Jones free throw with 1.6 left put MU in front 60-56, before a K.J. Rose heave at the horn accounted for the one-point final.
Monmouth, which had five assists on its first five baskets, tied the game at 10-10 on Chris Brady’s (Greenlawn, N.Y./Harborfields) lay-in at 13:49, which started a 6-0 spurt and gave the Hawks a 14-10 lead with 12:25 showing on Collin Stewart’s (Glenville, N.Y./Mekeel Christian Academy) jumper. The Stags answered with an 8-0 run to take an 18-14 lead on Tyler Nelson’s three-pointer at 9:51, but ignited by Jones’ three-pointer, Monmouth ended the stanza on a 15-4 run over the final 6:58 to hold a 29-22 edge at the intermission.
All four games between Monmouth and Fairfield have been decided by single-digits, and a combined 15 points.
Monmouth returns to action on Sunday, February 1 when the Hawks Manhattan on ESPN3 at 2:00 p.m. in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play in the MAC