Men’s basketball split their two away games against Niagara this past weekend winning the first one by a score of 77-67 on Friday and dropping the second one 74-83 on Saturday.
Monmouth’s Friday victory was their fifth straight win, making it the Hawks longest winning streak since the 2017 season.
In just their second trip, the Hawks secured their first road win of the year while senior forward Melik Martin and senior guard Deion Hammond led the charge putting up 19 and 18 points respectively.
Monmouth held the Purple Eagles to only 26 points in the first half, allowing them to head into halftime with a 15-point lead. Niagara made things interesting in the second half as they cut down the lead to single digits.
Hammond drained three triples in Fridays contest putting him at 257 for his career in blue and white, tied for the second most in Monmouth history. “We’re just grateful we got to come out and play today,” said Hammond. “We didn’t really think about who we had to play, we were just glad to play and get the win.”
Freshman guard Myles Ruth continues his Gary Payton-esque season as he recorded multiple steals for the eighth time this season in just 12 games.
The Hawks were distributing the rock with ease in this one as they totaled 23 assists collectively. This is the most Monmouth tallied in a single game since the 2012-2013 season. They also secured the ball as well holding the Purple Eagles to force nine turnovers.
“Today I thought we had a really good game plan,” said Head Coach King Rice. “We did some things a little bit differently then we normally do against them and I think it messed them up a little bit and then my guys were super excited to be able to play a game after not playing last week.”
The Hawks were also more efficient in their matchup with Niagara as Monmouth shot an impressive 50 percent from the field and 47 percent from behind the arc. Friday’s win brings Monmouth to eight wins on the 2020-2021 campaign.
History would not repeat itself in the next contest between these two squads as Monmouth fell short to Niagara.
The Hawks were led by redshirt sophomore Donovann Toatley who scored 17 points in 21 minutes and senior forward Melik Martin who notched his first double-double of his career with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
These performances were not enough for Monmouth to win as the Purple Eagles were steam rolling early going on a 11-0 run in the first half to give themselves a comfortable 12-point lead, but the Hawks clawed back to trim that lead to only six heading into the locker room.
“Give Niagara all the credit,” said Rice. “Their kids were more together today and that usually happens after you get beat on your home floor so that was going to have them regrouped. You expected them to come back strong.”
Hammond hit another milestone during his terrific tenure in blue and white as he surpassed the 1500-point mark, becoming only the seventh Hawk in the program’s D1 history to do so.
Coming up for now 8-5 Monmouth is two matchups on the road against Manhattan. Their first matchup will take place on Feb. 5 and will air on ESPNU. Their next game will take place the day after on Feb. 6.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics