Led by yet another strong performance from senior guard Marcus McClary, Monmouth University Men’s Basketball knocked off its seventh high-major opponent under King Rice, besting the University of Cincinnati in Saturday afternoon’s contest in Cincinnati, 61-59.
The Hawks traded buckets with Cincinnati for the majority of the first half. Neither team led by much more than a possession until a 10-1 Monmouth run, capped off by two consecutive baskets inside from sophomore forward Myles Foster.
Cincinnati took the lead back with a 10-1 run of their own before freshman guard Tahron Allen attempted to take the momentum back with his first career three. Cincinnati followed with three scores from beyond the arc to extend their lead to eight at the break.
Cincinnati extended to a 12 point lead early in the second half, but the Hawks were quick to respond with seven straight. A three from senior guard George Papas preceded by a strong finish at the rim from McClary put the Hawks within striking distance. Just moments later, senior forward Nikkei Rutty put his body on the line, winning a loose ball resulting in an outlet to McClary who scored, tying the game at 52 with just over nine minutes to play. Rutty accumulated a career-best three steals in the contest.
“My team called upon me to be a leader and if they need me to play defense, to score, to play any position, I’m your guy,” said McClary who went on to hit consecutive three pointers, giving the Hawks a five point lead. McClary ended with 18 points at the conclusion of the game.
Senior guard Shavar Reynolds maintained the Hawks lead late in the game with a quick score after Cincinnati. Going into the final minute of play Cincinnati worked their way back to within two of Monmouth. With 4.1 seconds left in the game, Cincinnati senior center Hayden Koval was awarded two free throws, but proceeded to miss both.
After two inbounds plays, Monmouth turned the ball over to Cincinnati with a second to go. Cincinnati’s final shot was swatted away by Rutty, securing the Hawks statement victory.
“Nobody thought we could do this today,” said Monmouth Head Coach King Rice, “I could not be more proud of our kids, my staff and all the Monmouth people believing in what we do. This one’s for everybody at Monmouth, we talk about playing Monmouth Basketball and not taking a back seat to anybody and today we proved we can play with anybody in the country.” The win against Cincinnati marks Monmouth’s seventh win over a high-major program under King Rice, the first since defeating Memphis in 2016. With this win, Monmouth improves to 5-1 for the first time since 1990-91.
“That’s a big-time win for our team and our program,” said Hawks senior center Walker Miller, “I’m so happy I’m here and I’m so blessed to be a part of Monmouth. These guys are fighters and we don’t care where we are, we just want to play. We’re a bunch of guys that love playing basketball and we just fight.”
Miller ended with 13 points in his 26 minutes of play, competing against his brother, University of Cincinnati Head Coach Wes Miller. The graduate transfer remains the only Hawk to reach double figures in every game thus far.
Up next, Monmouth will open Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play at Niagara on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Niagara holds a 4-3 record on the year. For more news and updates follow Hawks basketball on twitter @MonmouthBBall.