Justin Robinson

Monmouth Basketball Downs Purple Eagles

Justin RobinsonThe Monmouth men’s basketball team defeated the Niagara Purple Eagles 56-42 Sunday afternoon at the Gallagher Center at Niagara University. Redshirt freshman guard Micah Seaborn led the Hawks with 13 points, and senior guard Deon Jones had a solid offensive day with 11 points and six rebounds. Monmouth also received contributions from junior guard Justin Robinson, who had eight points and four rebounds, and freshman forward Diago Quinn, who had six points and three rebounds in his first career start.

Seaborn credited the team’s success to their energy and mindset “Today we knew we had to come out and play the best defense we have played so far and couldn’t have a slow start. I felt the main reason we won was because of the energy we came out with”. Seaborn’s 13 points led all Monmouth players, and was one short of the game high of 14 by Niagara’s Emile Blackman.

The Hawks rattled off eight straight points to begin the game, coming from a Robinson layup, a Seaborn basket, and two fast-break scores from junior guard Je’lon Hornbeak. Monmouth extended their lead to 14-3 halfway through a low-scoring first half. Niagara cut the Monmouth lead to six, but the Hawks responded with a 13-7 scoring run to make the halftime score 27-15.


MU opened the second half with five points from Seaborn, keeping the lead in double-digits. The largest lead of the game was 16 for Monmouth, a feat which they reached three times during the second half. Monmouth controlled the game throughout the second half, making seven of eight free throws down the stretch to clinch the game 56-42. Head Coach King Rice was satisfied with his team’s performance Sunday afternoon “Tonight we made a couple more plays than them, our defense was really good. We really have great leadership on our team.”

MU never trailed in the game, leading for 38 of the 40 minutes in the game. The Hawks outshot the Purple Eagles with a 39 percent shooting percentage, despite shooting only 18 percent from three-point range. The Hawks defense had an outstanding performance, holding Niagara to only 15 first half points and 42 for the game. The defense also forced 20 Niagara turnovers, leading to 16 Monmouth points off of those turnovers.

This is the first conference win in two tries for Monmouth, who fell in their MAAC opener Friday night at Canisius 96-86. The Golden Griffins shot 60 percent from three-point range in the first half, making 12 three pointers in the opening stanza. The red-hot Golden Griffins ended the first half on a 33-17 scoring run to end the half, and held off a feisty Monmouth comeback in the second half. The Hawks could not fully overcome the deficit, falling by 10 to open conference play. Sunday’s win provided a huge momentum boost for the men’s team to get back on track after a tough loss to open conference play Friday night.

Coach Rice expects teams to play Monmouth tough during conference play “It’s a 20 game deal, and what happens with that is that we don’t change a lot from year to year, so when I call out a play, their whole bench stands up and knows the play.” Rice also added “We all know each other, we know each other’s tendencies, and how a guy is going to try to get you and what he’s going to try to do.” Monmouth will take a brief hiatus from MAAC play for the remainder of Dec., but then will dive right back into the close-knit league in January.

With the 56-42 win over Niagara on Sunday, the men’s basketball team improved to 5-3 overall, and 1-1 in MAAC play. Meanwhile, Niagara dropped to 3-6 on the season, and 1-1 in MAAC play. Monmouth’s next game is Sunday, Dec. 13, which is the 2015-16 home opener. The Hawks will take on former NEC opponent Wagner, who is 4-2 on the season and currently riding a four game winning streak.

Tip-off is set for shortly after 2 pm, and the game is viewable on ESPN3 and available on WMCX 88.9 radio.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics