- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 10 February 2016
- Written by JOHN SORCE | STAFF WRITER
The men’s basketetball team got a taste of what’s to come in the MAAC Tournament as they defeated the Siena Saints on Monday, Feb. 2 93-87 at Times Union Center in Albany, NY as one of their two victories over the past week.
The arena has hosted the MAAC Tournament 11 times since 1990 and will host it again in 2016 from Mar. 3-7. Seven thousand and sixteen fans were in attendance to see junior guard Justin Robinson score a career-high 36 points, becoming the sixth Hawk to do so and the first since Rahsaan Johnson had 40 points in 2001. Siena went into the contest an undefeated 9-0 at home, but MU’s depth proved to be too much as Robinson was one of five Monmouth players to put up double-figures.
“Our kids got going tonight on offense, especially Justin (Robinson) early,” said head coach King Rice. “Both teams can really score the ball and fortunately for us, we scored more than them tonight.”
With the conference tournament being hosted at Siena’s home arena and both teams playing as well as they have been, it has some people thinking that this game could have been a preview of the MAAC Championship game on Mar. 7.
“When Siena gets rolling like they are now, the building fills up and in a month from now, if we play them, the building will be full,” Rice said. “Hopefully, it’s not going to be until Monday night, and we would be in for a hard battle.”
The Hawks also defeated the Fairfield Stags 91-67 on Feb. 5 in front of 3,785 at The MAC. This game featured seven Hawks recording double-figures, once again showing the depth that the team has displayed all season long.
“That’s how our team is built,” Rice said. “You could tell early that Justin was struggling scoring; he had three turnovers in the first half. But the good thing was Chris Brady had such a great start and other guys stepped up and Justin got it going a little bit late. Our team has so many options that sooner or later, somebody is going to get going.”
MU was led by sophomore guard Austin Tilghman, who scored a career-high 16 points. Tilghman is currently in the midst of a nice four-game stretch where he is averaging 11 points a contest while shooting 76.2% from the field. Junior center Chris Brady finished the game with 13 points and senior guard Deon Jones added 12.
“Early on, my guys were finding me and I was able to get to the rim which is what I like to do,” Tilghman said. “We came up with a great win tonight.”
A transfer from Oklahoma, Hornbeck got off to a slow start in his first year with the Hawks. However, he is feeling more confident as the season goes along.
“I was trying to force it too much early in the season, but my teammates and coaches have been behind me the whole year,” Hornbeak said. “They just have patience with me, and I had to find some patience with myself. It’s starting to pay off.”
The two victories increased the Hawks record to 19-5 on the season and 7-0 at home. Their 11-2 record in the MAAC keeps them a game ahead of the Iona Gaels (13-9, 10-3) for the conference lead. The two teams have one regular season matchup remaining on Friday Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. in a game at The MAC that will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
Prior to that game, MU has two road contests and a rematch with a Manhattan Jaspers (9-11, 6-5) team that gave the Hawks one of their two conference losses. The Hawks will head to Poughkeepsie, NY to take on the Marist Red Foxes (4-17, 1-11) on Tuesday Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. followed by a trip to Lawrenceville, NJ for the first matchup of the season against the Rider Broncs (10-14, 6-7) for a 9 p.m. tip-off that will also be televised on ESPNU. The rematch against Manhattan will be Monday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. at The MAC. The game can also be seen on ESPN3.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics