Men’s Basketball had one of their most impressive weeks of the season, stretching their home winning streak in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play to six at the OceanFirst Bank Center against Siena and Rider, respectively.
The Hawks dominated Siena on Thursday night with a double-digit victory before knocking off the first-place team in the conference, Rider, on Saturday.
Monmouth completed the season sweep of the Saints with a 66-55 victory to remain undefeated in conference play at home this season.
Sophomore guard Deion Hammond led the charge Thursday as the game’s high-scorer with 16 points while shooting four of six from beyond the arc. Hammond’s strong effort made it six straight games in double figures while also hauling in four rebounds on the night.
“I think the effort was great coming off of a bad trip to Buffalo,” said Hammond. “I didn’t really know how everything was going to go but collectively we came out and did our thing and everybody played well.”
Adding to the dominating collective effort was senior center Diago Quinn, who was perfect from both the field and the free-throw line, putting ten points on the board and tacking on five rebounds. The double-digit performance was the eighth of the season for Quinn. The center also closed out the first half with six points which helped Monmouth go into the locker-room with their first lead of the game, 28-27.
The Hawks continued this run into the second half where they scored 21 unanswered points, eventually propelling them to the win.
Junior guard Nick Rutherford also played a significant role in the victory with a solid eight points and eight rebounds which led the Blue and White in that department.
“I’m so happy for my kids because we were shorthanded tonight and when the game started it looked like we were really missing those guys,” said Head Coach King Rice. “Then we were able to get going a little bit and it started with our defense.”
The Hawks defense has been the story of their conference success at home, allowing a mere 57.2 points per game to MAAC opponents at the OceanFirst Bank Center.
Saturday’s game against Rider had a much different narrative as the Hawks allowed 71 points but still pulled out the tight 75-71 victory.
Quinn kept his big week going, putting up the game-high of 17 points while adding seven rebounds to his stat line. The center also clutched out the game late with a free-throw to tie it up before sophomore guard Ray Salnave locked up the win with two free-throws in the final minute.
Rutherford kept the hot hand going as well, contributing in every facet of the game with nine points, four boards, five assists, and a clutch fast-break finish in the final stretch of the game.
“Nick Rutherford kept being positive, Diago [Quinn] just waited his time after he had some fouls called and went back in and started dominating like he was doing earlier in the game,” said Rice. “We settled back down and started getting stops again and that’s how we won the game.”
It was a massive win for Monmouth, who is now tied with Rider for the most conference wins with seven, the same amount that they finished with a year ago.
“That’s a very good basketball team, the way they [Rider] came back in the second half and how fast it was really knocked me back some,” said Rice. “Credit to them, but credit to our guys for continuing to believe against the number one team in the league.”
Next, Monmouth will begin a three-game road trip by traveling to Saint Peter’s tomorrow for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff at the Yanitelli Center in Jersey City, NJ.
PHOTO TAKEN by Karlee Sell