JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Behind its fourth straight win, Monmouth clinched a first-round bye in the 2015 MAAC Tournament with its 63-58 victory over Saint Peter’s at the Yanitelli Center on Thursday night, as Deon Jones (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School) scored a game-best and season-high 23 points, including 9-for-9 from the free throw line. The Hawks, who went 18-of-21 from the stripe, including 17-of-19 in the second half, improved to 16-12 overall and 12-5 in the MAAC.

Deon Jones on the floor vs. Saint Peter (Monmouth Athletics)

The Hawks, who tied a Division I program record with their ninth road win, went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final 42 seconds of action to seal the victory over its hOURglass Rival.

Joining Jones in double-figures were Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston), who notched 11 points, three rebounds and three steals, and Max DiLeo (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson), who added 10 points and five rebounds. Brice Kofane (Yaounde, Cameroon/Miller School/Providence) registered seven points and seven rebounds, while Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) chipped in five points and four assists to the winning effort.

“I am so excited for our kids,” stated head coach King Rice. “These kids have been believing all along and good things happened for us tonight, because our defense is playing so well and we are making enough plays on offense to get wins on the road.”

Monmouth, which hit 50.0% (10-20) from the floor in the second half, limited its 22nd opponent to 70 points or less on the year, outscored Saint Peter’s 24-14 in the paint and turned nine offensive rebounds into 15 second-chance points.

With the game tied at 2-2, Monmouth went on an 11-0 run in just over four minutes of action to take a 13-2 lead, started by DiLeo’s three-pointer, highlighted by six straight points from Jones and capped by a Collin Stewart (Glenville, N.Y./Mekeel Christian Academy) fast break lay-up with 11:47 remaining. A Robinson jumper gave the Hawks a 15-4 lead with 9:20 remaining and his floater in the lane with 4:58 showing pushed the Hawks ahead 19-11.

The Peacocks responded with a 12-4 run over nearly four minutes of play to tie the game at 23-23 with 33 seconds left on a Tyler Gaskins’ trey, but Jones’ putback as time expired on the stanza gave the Hawks a 25-23 edge at the intermission.

SPU climbed within one, 30-29, with 12:58 left on Desi Washington’s three-pointer, before five straight from Kofane, including a three-point play, gave the Hawks a 35-29 edge at 11:23. Jones’ three-point play pushed the Hawks back in front by double-digits, 43-33, with 7:50 showing, but the Peacocks used an 8-2 run to climb within 45-41 with 5:15 left.

After Washington’s third triple of the stanza made the score 53-48 in favor of the Blue & White with 58 seconds left, Robinson’s lay-in, followed by a pair of Jones free throws, claimed a 57-48 lead for the Hawks with 42.2 on the clock.

Saint Peter’s trimmed the deficit to 61-56 with 12.4 seconds left when Travis Hester connected on three free throws, but two more foul shot makes from Jones put MU in front 63-56 with 11.4 remaining.

Saint Peter’s (13-15, 7-10 MAAC), which connected on 39.5% (17-43) was led by Washington’s 17 points, 14 of which came in the second half.

Monmouth returns to action on Sunday, February 22 when the Hawks travel to the Hynes Center in New Rochelle, N.Y. to face Iona in MAAC action at 4:00 p.m., on ESPN3.


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