W Basketball 02.14.18

Women’s Basketball Defeats Manhattan in Overtime

The Monmouth University women’s basketball team won its second consecutive game Monday night, as they defeated the Manhattan Jaspers 63-59 in overtime at the OceanFirst Bank Center.

Senior guard Rhaiah Spooner-Knight scored a season-high 25 points to lead the Hawks, shooting 11-for-16 from the field. Sophomore guard Kayla Shaw added 12 points and a career-high five assists, and sophomore forward Alexa Middleton scored six and grabbed 11 rebounds.

“We’re really starting to develop some poise under pressure,” Monmouth Head Coach Jody Craig said. “It was a battle all night and we were struggling to get a flow at some points, but we stuck with it and hung together as a team.”

The Hawks jumped out to a 5-2 lead, but Manhattan embarked on a 12-2 scoring run to double-up Monmouth 14-7 with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter. The Jaspers held their lead, as the score was 18-11 after ten minutes of play.

Monmouth used a 6-0 run, including four points from Middleton, to cut the deficit to three with 4:42 remaining in the second quarter. The Hawks outscored the Jaspers by six in the quarter, as they went into halftime down by one, 26-25.

A jumper from Shaw capped off a 7-0 Monmouth run, forcing Manhattan to call a timeout with 6:11 remaining in the third quarter. A three-point shot from freshman forward Carol Arfinengo gave their largest lead of the game, as the score was 41-34 with 4:49 left in the quarter. Manhattan battled back, however, as they cut the score to 43-42 going in to the final quarter.

The Jaspers outscored the Hawks 15-14 in the fourth quarter, and had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. Monmouth stopped Manhattan, forcing the second overtime period of the season for the Hawks (January 5, at Fairfield). The Hawks outscored the Jaspers 6-2 in overtime.

“We found a way to execute some big plays down the stretch,” Craig said, “and came up big defensively once again. I’m really proud of these girls.”

For the game, Monmouth shot 48 percent from the field and 54 percent from three, while winning the rebounding margin by seven. The game also featured 11 lead changes.

Spooner-Knight had her first 20+ point game this season, coming two points short of her career-high that she registered when at Utah Valley. Shaw’s two three-point shots moved her into a tie for sixth in Monmouth program history in three-point shots made. She tied recent alumni Sarah Olson, who connected on 143 threes from 2014-16.

Monday night’s victory concluded the third and final three-game home-stand of the season. On Thursday night, the Hawks fell 85-57 to Marist, which was their second-largest margin of defeat this season. The team responded two days later with a 65-63 victory over Niagara on Saturday afternoon. In that victory, Shaw hit her sixth three-point shot of the game with 17.8 seconds left to give Monmouth a two-point lead.

“I’ve been struggling at times this season,” Shaw said. “Today I woke up and told myself this is the day I’m not doubting myself, and this is the day my team comes together and gets this win. Today we learned that we can pull through, overcome adversity, and just keep fighting all game.”

The victory improved the Hawks record to 8-17 on the season, and 6-8 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play. They hope to continue their success this weekend, as they travel to Buffalo, NY for two games. They will play Canisius Friday night, with tip-off slated for 7:00 p.m., and Niagara on Sunday, with a 2:00 p.m. tip.

PHOTO TAKEN by Karlee Sell