W Basketball 01.30.19

Women’s Basketball Snaps Losing Streak with Two Wins

Women’s Basketball won their second game in a row on Saturday afternoon, defeating Niagara 76-54 at the OceanFirst Bank Center, improving to 7-11 on the season and 3-4 in conference play.

Freshman forward Lucy Thomas led Monmouth with 19 points, while junior forward Alexa Middleton scored 17 points and corralled 15 rebounds. Junior guard Sierra Green was the third and final Hawk in double figures, contributing 15 points.

Monmouth started strong off the tip, scoring the first seven points of the contest, including five from Green, which resulted in a Niagara timeout just 1:50 into the game.

The Purple Eagles responded with seven-straight points of their own to tie the game with 6:12 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Hawks countered with 12-straight points to jump out to a 19-7 lead with 3:32 on the clock, and ended the first quarter leading 27-10. Saturday’s first quarter was the highest-scoring quarter of the year for the team.

A layup from Middleton and a three-point shot from Thomas expanded the Monmouth lead to 32-10, as they held Niagara scoreless for almost six minutes of the second quarter.

The Hawks led by as many as 23 points in the frame, but Niagara closed the half on a 6-0 scoring run to make the halftime score 39-22.

Monmouth continued their push in the second half, as they outscored Niagara by seven points to take a 57-33 lead into the final ten minutes.

The Purple Eagles held a two point advantage in the fourth, outscoring the Hawks 21-19, but Monmouth was able to close out a 22-point victory.

“It was by far our best performance to date,” said Head Coach Jody Craig. “We started out well every quarter, and did a great job defensively by not giving them consistent looks. It was nice to see everyone play and get a complete effort. We had a great crowd today for National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and I was proud to have this performance with everyone that was in the building today.”

For the game, Monmouth shot 32-65 from the field (49 percent) and scored 76 points, which were both season highs. The Hawks shot 5-16 from three (31 percent) and 7-10 from the free throw line (70 percent).

They forced 16 Niagara turnovers, leading to 24 points. Monmouth also outscored Niagara 54-14 in the paint. Middleton’s double-double was her second in three games, and the sixth of her career.

The 15 points for Green marked the 15th time in 18 games that she reached double figures in scoring. Her four three-point shots increased her season total to a conference-leading 65 points. Green was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Week for her efforts.

The victory was the second-straight of the week for the Hawks, as they defeated Canisius 67-61 on Thursday night at the OceanFirst Bank Center. Green had a game-high 22 points and junior guard Emani Clough had 12 points off of the bench.

The Hawks trailed by as many as nine in the third quarter after Canisius began the second half on an 11-0 scoring run. Monmouth responded by scoring 12 of the next 14 points to take a 40-39 lead late in the third.

The teams traded leads in the fourth quarter, as Monmouth went up again 56-55 with 5:06 remaining on a Green shot. The Hawks hit four free throws down the stretch to clinch the victory, snapping a four-game losing streak.

“We’ve been on a little losing streak here, and we were really trying to break that,” Craig said. “At this point in the season, this win is as big as it gets.”

Monmouth will play the final game of their four-game home stand on Friday night, as they will host Quinnipiac. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., with the game being broadcasted on ESPN+ and WMCX 88.9 FM.

PHOTO TAKEN by Karlee Sell