MBB 01.29.20

Men’s Basketball Stays Hot at Home

Men’s basketball remained atop the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) after back-to-back wins this past weekend against conference opponents Niagara and Iona led by junior guard Deion Hammond’s 47 combined points.

The Hawks made it a perfect 7-0 home record at the OceanFirst Bank Center on Friday night against the Purple Eagles of Niagara behind Hammond’s game-high 22 points leading to the 82-71 victory.

“This one feels great, especially when your teammates get you involved and get you the ball,” said Hammond. “I feel like everyone was clicking today and it was a great team effort for a win.”

Monmouth was in control from the very beginning of Friday night’s affair as they quickly got out to a 20-5 lead with Hammond scoring nine of those points. It appeared as though the blue and white would run away with this one until Niagara put together a run of their own and eventually took the lead towards the end of the first half.

“We’ve been trying to play for 40 minutes and the way we started the game, I thought we were about to do it tonight,” said Head Coach King Rice. “But we’re still young in areas and probably started to think they had this already.”

However, all momentum seemed to sway in favor of the Hawks in the final moments of the half as Hammond finished home an alley-oop in dramatic fashion going into the locker room with a 34-33 advantage.

In a tight game, the story of the second half was the three-point shooting from the boys of Long Branch which allowed them to pull away after making seven from beyond the arc in the half. Monmouth rebounded by shooting 7-16 or 44 percent from range after a first half that saw them make only 2-10 or 20 percent from behind the three-point line.

Junior guard Ray Salnave was also a huge piece of the Hawks’ triumph after calculating his first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Fellow junior guard Marcus McClary tacked on a double-double of his own for the second time in three games with ten points and 11 rebounds.

The Hawks traveled from here to the Hynes Center in New Rochelle, New York for a matchup on Sunday with conference rival Iona.

The usual suspects led the way for the Monmouth squad as Hammond and Salnave combined for 40 total points and seven three pointers in the 94-88 narrow, road victory.

“Every Iona-Monmouth game is going to be an exciting game,” said Coach Rice. “Someone might get their doors blown off or it could go back and forth.”

The 94-point performance for the Hawks was their highest total for the season so far as the team shot 44 percent from both the field and three-point range. MU notched a season high with 14 made threes, which is the most since making 16 in 2017 against Ole Miss.

Hammond’s 25 points on 7-14 shooting were the most points scored by a Hawk this season as he has now scored 20 plus points 11 times in his career and seven times this year alone.

“I just try to come out every day and do what I do,” said Hammond. “My teammates do a good job of finding me. It’s always good to get a win, especially against Iona, they’re a tough team. We tried to key in late on defense, I know in the first half they hit a lot of shots so in the second half that was a focus for us.”

The 12-7 Hawks will now travel to Saint Peter’s on Wednesday night for a matchup with the Peacocks as tipoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. 

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics