M Basketball 02.13.19

Men’s Basketball Moves into First Place in the MAAC

M Basketball 02.13.19Men’s Basketball kept rolling on the road this week with Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) victories at Saint Peter’s and Fairfield thanks to stellar defensive efforts. The Hawks have now swept the season series of MAAC teams Saint Peter’s, Fairfield, and Siena.

Thursday night’s matchup with the Peacocks was a defensive battle on both sides as the Hawks squeaked out one of the lowest scoring games of the season, a tight 53-51 nail-biter that came down to the final possession.

Saint Peter’s had an opportunity to win the game with a last-second three pointer that bounced off the iron to help secure Monmouth’s eighth conference victory and improve their MAAC record to 8-4.

“This is a credit to these kids,” said Head Coach King Rice. “We’re sitting right now in this league where we are and that’s a credit to them. They keep working, they always keep working and that’s what’s making it fun to coach them. There’s not a quitter in this group. Sometimes we don’t have our best nights and we keep fighting.”

It was the sophomore guard Marcus McClary who led the Blue and White in scoring in the quiet affair with a career-high of 13 points on five of six shooting from the field with four rebounds.

Junior guard Nick Rutherford also continued his phenomenal play of late with another well-balanced attack that filled the box score. Rutherford put up nine points and added eight rebounds while shooting a perfect five of five from the free-throw line. The junior also came up clutch to set up the game-winning possession by taking a charge in the final minutes of the game.

“This one meant a lot,” said Rutherford. “Especially after our last road trip where we went 0-2, we knew coming in that after winning two last week, we wanted to win two this week.”

Winning two was exactly what MU did, closing out the week’s play with a dominating 61-49 defensive shutdown of Fairfield on the road Saturday. The Stags became the third team that Monmouth’s excellent defense has held to under fifty points this season.

The standout of the game was junior forward Mustapha Traore who poured in a career-high 16 points on seven of twelve shooting with nine rebounds. Traore came out firing to open the second half with eight-straight points and a rim-rattling dunk to deflate the Fairfield crowd.

Sophomore guard Ray Salnave dominated as well, leading the team in scoring with 17 points on seven of fifteen shooting and hauling in seven boards.

Despite only taking one shot and scoring zero points, Rutherford contributed to the winning effort yet again in the rebounds department with eight boards while senior Diago Quinn tallied nine of his own. This was the story of the game with the Hawks outrebounding the Stags 43-39 and outscoring them 32-22 in the paint.

The Monmouth bench also contributed in a massive way, outscoring Fairfield’s 33-13 which led to the insurmountable lead.

“I’m so proud of my kids, it’s like all of a sudden we’re starting to really play for each other,” said Rice. “I’m starting to see the stuff we were always accustomed to with Monmouth Basketball teams, which is guys playing for the guy next to them.”

The massive victory bumped Monmouth up to first place in the MAAC with nine conference wins and a 10-16 record overall for the year.

The first place Hawks will now receive an extended break until Friday night where they will continue their road trip at Rider with tip-off slated for 7:00 p.m.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics