The men’s basketball team was eliminated from the MAAC Conference Tournament this past Thursday, March 6, when they fell to Rider University 71-60 in the tournament’s first round. With the loss the Hawks 2013-2014 season officially comes to an end.
MU ended their season with an overall record of 11-21, and a 5-15 conference record in their inaugural season in the MAAC.
“This league is an every day, every play league,” said head coach King Rice when asked about the season. “We had some very very exciting nights, and I think we learned some valuable lessons. Tonight we just got beat by a better Rider team.”
Despite the loss, three Hawks managed to notch double-digit points on the night. Junior guard Deon Jones led the way with 18 points on 5-8 shooting on the game. Jones was also a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line. Freshman point-guard Josh James chipped in with 11, and junior guard Andrew “Red” Nicholas was right behind him with 10 of his own. James also led the Hawks with six assists while Nicholas grabbed a team high six rebounds.
The Hawks started the game off well with a quick run that put the team up 6-0 with just three minutes gone by, but Rider answered right back with ten points in less than a minute and a half to go ahead 10-6 at the 15:30 mark of the first half.
Play then evened out for the next ten minutes with both teams trading baskets. Trailing by three junior guard, and team captain, Max DiLeo knocked down a shot from beyond the arc to bring MU even with Rider at 19, and three more baskets then gave the Hawks a 25-21 lead with 5:24 remaining in the first half.
From that point on the Broncs were able to seize momentum, however, and a 14-6 run gave RU an eight point advantage as both teams headed to the locker room.
MU again played well to open up the half, this time in even more dominating fashion, as the blue and white went on a 21-5 run in the beginning of the second to grab a 46-38 lead with around 11 minutes left to go in the game. Jones got the run started when he turned a James steal into a slam-dunk, and three-point play, that got the rest of the Hawks fired up. During the run Jones, James, and Nicholas accounted for 19 of the 21 points.
The Hawks lead did not last long, however, and at the 8:29 mark an Anthony Myles three capped off a 10-0 Rider run to put the Broncs back in front 48-46. Jones managed to tie the game at 48 with two free throws just 15 seconds later, but Jimmie Taylor hit another three for RU to give them back the lead.
Just a few moments later a dunk by Daniel Stewart put the Broncs in front by five and MU would not get closer the rest of the game as Rider hit seven free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The loss marks a disappointing end to the season for the Hawks who were 10-10 on Jan. 23, but then suffered a nine game losing streak to fall back in the standings. However, MU was extremely young on the year, and, with all of their players returning, the team looks to have more success in the future.
“We definitely want and need to win more games,” said Rice about the future. “But our program is going in a great direction, and I love these kids. We have a great group of kids. I’m proud of this group, and we’ll continue to work and get better.”