Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, NY/Kingston) scored 23 points and Collin Stewart (Glenville, NY/Mekeel Christian Academy) netted 16 as the Monmouth basketball team (28-7) topped Bucknell (17-14) 90-80 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament Wednesday night. MU wins its first national postseason game since 2006 and the first at home in program history. The top-seeded Hawks advance to take on #4 George Washington Monday night at 7:00 p.m. in West Long Branch.

“Our shots started falling down, we got a little bit of a cushion and we were able to hold on and win,” said head coach King Rice.

Monmouth opened a nine-point lead with three triples in 1:35, sparked by one from Stewart after the game was tied at 52. Robinson drilled one 1:13 later, and 22 seconds after that, Stewart hit another to extend the lead to nine and force a Bucknell timeout. The Bison didn’t get closer than six the rest of the way.

Je’lon Hornbeak (Arlington, TX/Grace Prep [Oklahoma]) hit a three at 8:44 to push the lead back to nine, and Stewart drained his fourth triple at 8:12 to make it 69-57. After two Bucknell threes, a Nana Foulland jumper made it a six-point game with 6:57 to go. The Hawks extended that lead to 13 with a quick 7-0 run on transition buckets from Hornbeak and Deon Jones (Wilmington, DE/Sanford School [Towson]) before Robinson netted a long ball at 5:12 to make it 78-65.

With 3:20 to go, Micah Seaborn (Fort Worth, TX/Prime Prep Academy) made an acrobatic play at the rim and Jones and Josh James (Greenburgh, NY/Archbishop Stepinac) scored to widen the gap to 14, and MU held on to win by 10.

Bucknell came out of the locker room and cut it to two on a Foulland jumper, but James hit an open triple to push it back to five. The teams traded buckets with neither team leading by more than a possession until MU broke the 52-all tie.

Robinson knocked down two contested long balls in the final 35 seconds of the half, including one at the buzzer to give Monmouth a six-point lead at the break. MU led by as many as 11 in the opening half, doing so at 6:47 when Austin Tilghman (Wilmington, DE/Archbishop Carroll [PA]) muscled to the rim. The lead was still at 10 when Hornbeak hit two free throws at 3:58. Bucknell quickly answered with a 10-0 run, capped by a Ryan Frazier triple at 1:05 before Robinson hit two threes to end the period.

Neither team led by more than four until Stewart hit from deep at 11:05, and Monmouth led by nine after Hornbeak drove to the rim. The lead was at 11 when Robinson drove at 8:39.

Robinson led Monmouth with 23 points, adding six rebounds on 8-of-14 shooting and four triples. Stewart netted 16 on 6-13, and Jones pitched in 15 on 6-13. Hornbeak scored nine points, grabbed nine boards and dished out five assists.

Chris Hass led Bucknell with 18, and five Bison scored in double-figures including Zach Thomas, who had 15 and seven boards. Monmouth outscored Bucknell’s bench 38-18 and topped the Bison in points in the paint 42-28.

Monmouth hosts #4 George Washington on Monday night at 7:00 p.m.

Gallery Provided By B51 Photography

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