- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 02 March 2016
- Written by JOHN SORCE | STAFF WRITER
The men’s basketball team concluded their regular season over the weekend and clinched the No. 1 seed in the MAAC Tournament with their 79-58 victory against the Rider Broncs on Friday, Feb. 26 on ESPN2.
“I think tonight was an amazing night,” MU head coach King Rice said. “I’m the luckiest coach to be able to coach the young men in that locker room. It was way too long for Monmouth to be the champs. We got the first one but we’re not done.”
The Hawks did not trail once all game and had four players in double figures. MU was led by freshman guard Micah Seaborn, who finished with 19 points and six rebounds.
Junior center Zac Tillman added 12 points while junior guard Justin Robinson and sophomore guard Austin Tilghman put up 10 points each. The blue and white shot 50.8 percent (33-65) from the floor while holding the Broncs to just 37.9 percent (22-58) on the night.
This is the first time that the Hawks have won a regular season championship as a member of the MAAC. MU’s last regular season conference title was in 2004-05 when they were a member of the Northeast Conference. While this was part of the goal, the team’s mission is not complete.
“We talked about it with Josh (James) and Chris Brady a little bit and this is what we envisioned,” Robinson said when asked about winning a regular season championship. “We’re not done. We want to keep going and ultimately win a MAAC Championship.”
After giving up a lead and eventually coming back to win from a 14 point deficit in their previous contest with Rider on Feb. 12, MU players knew they were not going to let another halftime lead slip away.
“We told ourselves that we can’t lose this game,” Seaborn said. “In the second half we came out as a group and remembered the last time we played them. We said that we’re not letting this slip out of our hands and we stayed focused.”
The regular season concluded on Sunday, Feb. 28 as MU defeated Niagara 77-68.
Robinson finished with 25 points despite going only 5-18 from the floor as he made 13 of his 15 attempts from the line. Junior guard Je’lon Hornbeak had 12 points, all in the first half, when he went 4-5 from three-point range before fouling out in the second half. Junior guard Collin Stewart also had 12 points and freshman forward Diago Quinn had 16 rebounds, the most any Hawk has had in a game since Phill Wait had 16 against Hartford in Dec. 2010.
“I have the best group of kids that believed in our program, came here when we weren’t winning any games and have just been the best kids how they carry themselves, how they do schoolwork and how represent the university on a daily basis has been unbelievable,” Rice said. “I am the luckiest coach to be able to coach these kids. I am also the luckiest person that I get to be the coach at Monmouth University and work for an Athletic Director like Dr. Marilyn McNeil, a President like Paul Brown and I definitely have to say thank you to President Gaffney for brining me here five long years ago.”
MU finished the regular season 25-6 (17-3 MAAC), establishing a new program record for wins in a season while also going 10-1 at home.
Seven of the 11 home games were sellouts and they had a season attendance of 41,067, also a program record.
The Hawks will begin the MAAC Tournament at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY on Friday March 4 at 7 p.m. on ESPN3 against the winner of Thursday night’s Rider/Quinnipiac game.
The two teams previously meet twice this season. In their first encoutner, Quinnipiac defeated the Broncs 64-60. In their second encounter, Rider crusaded over the Bobcats, 75-52.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics