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Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 1pm

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Men’s Basketball Team Qualifies For NEC Tournament

The men’s basketball lost to Wagner Thursday night 74-67. They bounced back on Saturday and defeated Mount St. Mary’s 68-66 to secure a spot in the Northeast Conference (NEC) tournament in a couple weeks.

The Hawks (10-19, 8-8) are tied for fifth in the NEC with Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut State.

Thursday night, Tyler Murray scored 20 points for Wagner (23-4, 14-2). Latif Rivers added 13 points and four assists.

Four players scored in double figures for MU, but it wasn’t enough to get passed one of the NEC’s top teams. Phil Wait, Jesse Steele, Andre Nicholas, Austin Tillotson and Dion Nesmith combined for 56 of the team’s 67 points. Steele led the team with four assists.

Free throw and three-point shooting hurt the Blue and White in this one. The team made only 55.6 percent of its free throws. Nesmith and Steele each made a three, as the team shot only two of 10 from beyond the arc. Wagner was 21 of 26 from the charity stripe, and 11 of 28 from three-point land.

“You’ve got to take your hat off to Wagner to take a lot of three’s, and to make as many as they did. They shot it better from the free throw line than we did, but I thought it was a very even game,” said Head Coach King Rice. “I thought our kids came out with the right type of attitude, but Wagner is just a little bit better than us right now, so they came out with the win.”

Saturday night, Nesmith and Nicholas carried the Hawks, combining for 39 points. Nesmith was six of seven from beyond the three-point line. Nicholas connected on all of his eight free throw attempts.

The Blue and White trailed by nine with fewer than 10 minutes remaining in the game. A 16-2 run put the Hawks ahead 67-62 with 3:28 remaining in the game.

“I am so proud of our kids. This was a shoot-out that came down to the last possession,” said Rice. “I thought our kids fought extremely hard to get us back in the game, and once we got back in the game I thought we did a great job guarding them the way that we needed to, to pull out the win.”

Julian Norfleet led Mount (7-20, 5-11) with 21 points in the game. Danny Thompson added 13 points and a pair of assists.

Norfleet had the ball in his hands as the final seconds ticked away to try and send the game to overtime or win it. The Hawk’s defense made a stop when they had to and didn’t allow Norfleet to get off a shot.

Turnover differential was an important part of this game. The MU defense was able to force 17 turnovers. The offense only committed nine. In a two-point victory, the eight extra possessions proved to be crucial.

The Blue and White could finish the season anywhere from fifth to eighth in the NEC.

MU closes out the season this weekend with two home games. Thursday night, the Hawks host St. Francis (NY) (15-12, 12-4) at 7pm. Saturday night LUI Brooklyn (21-7, 15-1), the NEC’s top team, comes to West Long Branch for a 7 :00 pm game and possible preview for the first round of the NEC tournament.

PHOTO COURTESY of MU Photography

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Monmouth University
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Phone:(732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu