- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 08 February 2017
- Written by JOHN SORCE | SPORTS EDITOR
In his first game since becoming the men’s basketball D1 scoring leader, senior point guard Justin Robinson stepped up again when his team needed him and led the Hawks to a 71-70 overtime victory over Saint Peter’s on Friday night at OceanFirst Bank Center.
The two teams were tied at 29 at halftime and at 60 at the end of regulation. After scoring only three points in the first half, Robinson, who was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks on Monday afternoon, took matters into his own hands as he scored 26 from that point on. He scored 22 of the Hawks’ 31 points in the second half, including their final 14 to send the game into overtime.
“Justin has been everything for our program,” Monmouth Head Coach King Rice said. “He represents us with the energy that he walks around campus with and the smile he always has on his face. He keeps overcoming everything and he means the world to me.”
“My team looks for me to lead and tonight (Redshirt sophomore guard) Micah (Seaborn) went down, (senior guard) Je’lon (Hornbeak) had foul trouble, and (senior center) Chris (Brady) was a little slow,” Robinson said. “They looked to me to carry the load offensively and they’ve had the confidence in me to do that all season long.”
The Hawks never trailed in overtime and led by as much as four points. Senior guard Collin Stewart hit two free throws that proved to be the difference as Saint Peter’s cut the deficit to one on a three-pointer by senior guard Trevis Wyche with 0.6 seconds remaining, but there was not enough time for them to get the ball back as the blue and white avenged their loss to the Peacocks on Jan. 2.
It was fitting that Robinson led the Hawks on this night, where he was honored in front of a season-high crowd of 3,878 for becoming the program’s all-time leading D1 scorer in the team’s previous game at Marist on Monday, Jan. 30. Robinson passed Alex Blackwell (1989-92) and John Giraldo (1992-96), who were tied at 1,749 points and also in attendance for the postgame festivities.
“It was special to get (the record) near my hometown and a lot of them came down for the ceremony so I want to thank them,” Robinson said. “I just love Monmouth and I’m glad everybody is here to support me.”
“I thought that tonight was the coolest night since I’ve been the head coach at Monmouth,” Rice said. “I have a lot of great players, but I don’t know if I’ll ever have a kid like this kid ever again.”
The Hawks won their 10th game in a row for the first time in D1 program history with their 74-69 win over Rider at Alumni Gym on Monday night.
The Broncs had a three-point lead with 1:44 to go, but the Hawks closed the game on an 8-0 run that started with a put back by Brady. Robinson followed with a lay-up to give the Hawks a one-point advantage. MU closed the game with a bucket by junior guard Austin Tilghman and two free throws from Robinson, who led all scorers with 25 points.
“When you win in college basketball, there’s always a sense of relief,” Rice said. “It doesn’t matter if you win by 50, one or two, and if it’s a blowout or a tight game.”
The blue and white have now won 20 games in consecutive seasons for the first time ever. They have avenged losses from earlier in the season in their last two games. The next victory will be the 100th in the head coaching career of Rice.
The road trip for the Hawks (20-5, 12-2 MAAC) continues on Friday, Feb. 10 when they go to Draddy Gymnasium in Riverdale, NY to take on Manhattan for a 9 p.m. tip that will air on ESPNU. That will be followed on Monday, Feb. 13 as the Hawks take on Siena for the first time this season at Times Union Center in Albany, NY for a 7 p.m. tip.
PHOTOS COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics