Men’s basketball falls to RV/13 West Virginia Moutaineers 71-53 where the Hawks led for over eight minutes in the first half and as much as four points.
Monmouth was up for as long as 8:12 and as high as four points in the first half, but West Virginia’s defense would anchor down, and they would lead by as much as 22 points in the second half.
“I feel bad for my kids because their bodies are so big and strong and when you’re dealing with West Virginia, they have one of the best strength training programs in college basketball and Coach goes that way to wear you down and I think my kids got a little tired with the physicality of the game,” said Head Coach King Rice. “But we battled West Virginia and I’m proud of that part. I’m not one of these guys that’s into this ‘Oh, we played them tough,’ I’m trying to win the game. But when you’re going against a Hall of Famer that’s been doing it as long as him, you’ve got to take small victories. Being down six after we fouled them so many times in the first half to give them 25 free throws and only be down six, I think our kids did great tonight.”
In the first half, West Virginia started with a 5-0 run in the first minute before the Hawks tied it with a 5-0 run of their own. A WVU 7-1 run gave the Moutaineer’s their biggest lead of the half. Monmouth then went on a 17-7 run to give them their first lead of the game and their largest at 23-19.
West Virginia’s defense would tighten up the rest of the half, only allowing eight points. The half time score was 36-31. In the half, the Hawks led for 8:12. Junior guard Louie Pillari led the Hawks with eight points.
In the second, WVU expanded their lead to double digits for the largest lead by either team eight minutes into the second half. The Hawks’ offense would struggle, going scoreless for a stretch of 5:52. The scoring drought ended after a sophomore guard George Papas pair of free throws, making the score 50-41 West Virginia with 9:10 left.
Sophomore guard Deion Hammond would hit a three to bring the lead down to single digits, but WVU went on a 9-0 run to give them their largest lead of the night at 19 going into the final media timeout.
For the game, Hammond led the team with 10 points while shooting three for eight. Junior guard Nick Rutherford was second on the team with nine points and seven assists.
Next up, Monmouth (0-4) take on Valparaiso, who lost to Western Kentucky in the tournament, tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. in the second game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
PHOTO COURTESTY of Willis Glasgow