- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 18 November 2015
- Written by MELISSA PRAVATA | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Monmouth men’s basketball team opened up their season with an 84-81 overtime win on the road at the University of California Los Angeles Friday night. The team traveled 3,000 miles across the country to become the first Hawk’s to beat a PAC-12 opponent in school history.
“This win is for our school, our program, our Athletic Department, our President,” said a humbled Coach King Rice following the victory. “This was a momentous win for us. I really have to thank Steve (Alford) for this. We played in this tournament and I begged Steve over the summer to play us. I felt like something like this would be good for our program. I’ve known Steve and Coach Broussard for a very long time.”
During the final 18.9 seconds in overtime, senior guard Collin Stewart grabbed the offensive rebound and went to the line making both free throws giving Monmouth an 82-81 lead over the Bruins. UCLA got the ball back down the court and freshman guard Aaron Holiday attempted a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game but failed.
Junior guard Je’lon Hornbeak used the miss to his advantage for the rebound and scored leaving the Hawk’s with the 84-81 win out in California.
“We just basically stuck to what we know. Once they pulled ahead of us, we just kept our poise and got the win,” said junior Collin Stewart.
At the start of overtime, Monmouth went down 80-75 until junior center Zac Tillman made four free throws on back to back possessions to bring the Hawks within one. Redshirt-freshman guard Michah Seaborn then drew a foul making one on the line to tie the game at 80.
During the 12:29 mark at the second half, UCLA was up 13 points at 53-40. Monmouth continued to fight until they were within seven points at the 8:53 mark. A 9-0 run then put the Hawks ahead. Another breakaway from Hornbeak left the game at 61-60 Monmouth. Hornbeack missed a three-pointer later on and junior guard Josh James stole one of UCLA’s inbound attempts in the last second to lead the game into overtime.
“This was a really tough opener obviously. I thought Monmouth played really well. We knew we were going to be in for a really tough game. We tried to explain it to the guys and I must have done a really poor job of getting that point across to them. Last year they played four big-time schools really tough. They have all of those guys back, plus a really good transfer in [Je’Lon] Hornbeak. They turned us over 23 times, and our guard play was atrocious. We couldn’t handle the basketball, we couldn’t make free-throws, and we couldn’t make lay-ups,” said UCLA Head Coach Steve Alford on the game.
Monmouth shot 37.5 percent from the field, 24.1 percent from the 3-point line and 79.3 percent from the foul line while overturning the Bruins 23 times. The Bruins shot 37.1 percent from the floor, 38.1 percent from the 3-point line and 63.6 percent from the foul line.
Following the game, MU was the number one trending topic on Twitter for a few hours, and Coach Rice was featured on WFAN sports radio show at 2:45 in the morning eastern time.
Stewart led the Hawks with 19 points on 5-13 shooting and 3-8 from the three point line and 6-6 from the foul line. Seaborn had 14 points and shot 6-14 with Robinson adding another 16 points and six steals. Hornbeak added seven points with six rebounds and four assists to bring in the majority for the Hawks victory.
“This game really doesn’t prepare us yet for conference. We haven’t really started thinking about conference yet,” said Stewart in reference to his preparation for the season.
Last season, the Hawks had previous matches against other well-known programs such as Maryland, Southern Methodist University and West Virginia. This season the Hawks are set to play schools such as Notre Dame, Xavier, Iowa and a rematch against Rutgers after last season’s 59-58 buzzer beater loss at home.