MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Monmouth, which led by as many as 14 points in the second half, succumbed to a late Mountaineer run, to fall at West Virginia University in the 2014-15 season opener on Friday night in WVU Coliseum.

Coach King Rice on the sideline during Monmouth's season opener in West Virginia. (Monmouth Athletics)

Highlighted by double-digit efforts from junior Deon Jones (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School) and senior Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) and an eight-point, 11- rebound debut from senior Brice Kofane (Yaounde, Cameroon/Miller School/Providence), Monmouth held WVU to just 26.1% shooting from the floor.

The Hawks, who went 18-of-22 from the free throw line in the game, also got nine points and three steals from sophomore Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston).

“I am very proud of this team. Everybody’s effort was incredible,” said head coach King Rice. “You have to give West Virginia a lot of credit. Coach Huggins had those young men ready to play. They fought extremely hard and I thought their physicality finally wore us down towards the end. But our kids played as well as I thought we could. I thought we handled them for about 30 minutes and for the last 10, they outplayed us. Tonight was a good, good effort for the Hawks.”

Monmouth wrapped a 23-3 run around halftime to take a 37-23 lead with 16:39 remaining on a pair of Nicholas free throws and led 39-26 with 14:44 showing as Jones converted on a drive.

Justin Robinson (Monmouth Athletics)

Following a 10-2 spurt from the Mountaineers, Robinson’s drive and a Kofane three-point play reclaimed a double-digit lead for the Hawks, as Monmouth went in front 46-36 with 7:36 left.

WVU responded with a 17-2 run, nine of which came from the free throw line, to claim a 53-48 edge with 3:18 showing, before two Nicholas foul shots pulled the Hawks within 53-50 at 3:18 as well.

After the Hawks trimmed the deficit to three, WVU pushed its advantage to 57-50 on a Devin Williams’ tip in, before four points from Jones got MU within 59-54 with 1:52 left.

The Hawks claimed an early 6-3 edge on sophomore Zac Tillman’s (Yeadon, Pa./Shipley School) spin move in the post and led 8-7 on sophomore Chris Brady’s (Greenlawn, N.Y./Harborfields) slam. The Mountaineers responded with the next six to pull ahead 13-8, before a 6-0 run by the Blue & White put the Hawks in front 14-13 with 8:42 showing until intermission.

After WVU’s 7-0 spurt gave the Mountaineers a 20-14 lead at 6:05, the Hawks answered with a 12-0 run to lead 26-20, and held a 26-21 edge at the break.

West Virginia, which went 16-of-22 from the line in the second half, held a 49-33 edge on the boards, which included 30 offensive rebounds, which led to a 21-2 advantage in second chance points.

Monmouth (17-38) connected on 44.7% from the floor and went 18-of-22 from the line, while outscoring the Mountaineers 26-16 in the paint, despite losing its entire front court to foul disqualification by the 3:55 mark of the second half.

Monmouth returns to action next Friday, when the Hawks host Bethune-Cookman on day one of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in the MAC, at 7:30 p.m.


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