- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 17 February 2016
- Written by JOHN SORCE | STAFF WRITER
The magical season for the men’s basketball team continued after they stormed back from a 14 point deficit with 3:58 to go to take down the Rider Broncs (10-16, 6-9) in front of a sellout crowd of 1,650 at Alumni Gym in Lawrenceville on Feb. 12.
Monmouth went on a 17-2 run to close out the game after trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half. Junior point guard Justin Robinson put the blue and white on top for good as his 3-pointer with 3.8 seconds remaining gave MU a 79-78 lead.
“Big time players want the ball at the end of the game,” Malcom Huckaby said on the ESPNU broadcast after Robinson’s clutch shot. “I’ll say that again: big time players want the ball at the end of the game. Some guys don’t embrace the moment, the great ones do. Justin Robinson is one of the best guards in all of college basketball. Period.”
The Broncs were unable to convert a last second shot and the Hawks escaped with their third consecutive single digit victory against the Broncs on the road, dating back to November 2006.
“Our kids made incredible plays,” head coach King Rice said. “To come that far back and get it done in regulation is a credit to these young men.”
The Hawks came out flying and took a 44-35 lead into halftime while holding Rider to just 12-31 from the floor and 2-12 from three. But the Broncs left the locker room looking like a different team, as they went on a 31-9 run to begin the second half and made good on their first seven 3-pointers to give them a 13 point advantage with 11:50 to play.
Monmouth responded with two free-throws by junior guard Je’lon Hornbeak and a 3-pointer by senior guard Deon Jones to cut the deficit to eight with 8:53 remaining. However, two Kahili Thomas layups gave the Broncs a 12 point lead. MU freshman forward Pierre Sarr’s layup with 5:22 cut it to ten, but Rider’s Teddy Okereafor put in two layups to give the Broncs their largest lead of the night, 76-62, with 3:58 to play.
The comeback began with layups by Jones, Sarr and freshman guard Micah Seaborn which was followed up by a 3-pointer by Hornbeak, cutting the deficit to five with 1:32 to play. Another layup by Jones, the team’s lone senior, made it a three point game. That was followed by a 3-pointer by Seaborn, a leading candidate for MAAC Rookie of the Year, to tie the game at 76 with 59 seconds to play.
Rider regained the lead after a Thomas layup put them up by two with 21 seconds to play. The Hawks called a timeout with 14 seconds remaining, setting up the game-winning 3-pointer by Robinson with 3.8 seconds on the clock.
“It means a lot to this team,” Jones told Eddy Occhipinti of Monmouth Digital Network after the game. “Being down by 14 with about three minutes left and being able to pull this out, it’s a credit to how hard we work. It shows maturity as well, because I don’t know [if] a couple years ago that we would have been able to pull that out. We have matured as a team and to get through things like this, that’s a credit to us for working so hard.”
Four Hawks finished in double-figures led by Robinson’s 21 points. Jones added 18, Seaborn had 17 and Hornbeak tacked on 12.
MU also defeated the Marist Red Foxes 87-61 on Tuesday, Feb. 9 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Five Hawks scored double-figures as Seaborn and Robinson led the blue and white with 16 points each. Hornbeak had 14 points while junior guard Collin Stewart added 10 points. Junior center Chris Brady finished just shy of a double-double as he finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
On Monday, Feb. 15, the Hawks once again made history as they defeated the Manhatten Jaspers, 79-70, to earn their 22nd victory of the season. The two teams were equally motivated as the game was neck and neck right until the final minutes. Seaborn led MU with 22 points on the night with six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Robinson was close behind with 20 points and three assists. Brady had six rebounds.
The Hawks return to action in a nationally televised game against the second place Iona Gaels on Friday night. Tip-off from The MAC will be at 10 p.m. MU defeated Iona 110-102 in their previous meeting on Jan. 15.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics