The Monmouth University men’s basketball team (0-1) opened their season against Seton Hall (1-0) at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
The Hawks hung with the Pirates for the majority of the game, keeping things relatively close during the first half. The Hawks were within five points of the Pirates about halfway through the first half, but the Pirates proved too much to handle with a 6-0 scoring run and a 15-0 scoring run, propelling them into halftime with a 36-17 lead.
Monmouth was able to keep things much closer in the second half thanks to strong efforts from junior forward Myles Foster and sophomore guard Tahron Allen. Foster led all players in the game in points and rebounds, with 18 and 15 respectively. Allen was the only other Hawk to reach double-digit points on the night.
Seton Hall only outscored Monmouth 43-35 in the second half, but ultimately Monmouth’s slow start in the first half put them in too big of a hole for the Hawks to be able to bounce back. The team mustered up 29.8 percent of their field goals whilst struggling even more from deep, converting just 10 percent of their three-point attempts.
Monmouth (0-2) then traveled down to the John Paul Jones Arena where they faced off against No. 18 University of Virginia (2-0) on Friday, Nov. 11. The Hawks were defeated 89-42. Foster again led the team with 10 points, scoring double-figures for his second consecutive game to begin his season. Monmouth deployed the same starters for the second game in a row with their season opening road trip just kicking off.
The Hawks looked good early, and their efforts allowed them to keep the score close. Things were knotted up during the first seven minutes of the game as Foster made his first five shots for the team. Monmouth scored the first four points of the game, and freshman Jack Collins’ first three-pointer of his career gave the Hawks a 13-10 lead within the first 15 minutes. The nationally-ranked Cavaliers stole the lead and never looked back, taking a 42-21 lead into halftime.
The second half would play out similarly to the first, as juniors Myles Ruth and Klemen Vuga got the Hawks rolling early in the second half, but a 17-0 run for UVA gave the Hawks a mountain too great to climb. Sophomore Jayden Doyle and junior Jakari Spence made their first career baskets later on in the half, while junior Jack Holmstrom and freshman Andrew Ball netted triples for Monmouth for their second game in a row trying to put a dent in Virginia’s lead.
The Cavaliers steadily increased their advantage just like the first half, and UVA secured the win at their home court. Foster was the only Hawk to reach double-digits in scoring in the loss.
Head Coach King Rice lauded the Hawks’ opponents, but was less than pleased with the Hawks’ effort from start to finish. “Virginia is really, really good. Tony Bennett helped me years ago with our defense and he’s always been so, so good to me. Their team is a team and they’re not going to do things that aren’t team like,” Rice acknowledged. “If you try to shortcut it, it could get ugly, and tonight I thought we were good for 10 or 11 minutes. Unfortunately, we had to sub and our subs are young and [Virginia] turned up the heat.”
On Monday, The Hawks (0-3) then stumbled to a third consecutive loss at the hands of No. 23 Illinois (3-0) and concluded their season-opening road trip at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. The game was high-scoring at both ends of the court, as the Hawks scored a season-high 65 points but also allowed a season-high 103 points. Freshmen guards Ball and Collins led the Hawks in scoring, with Ball putting up 13 and Collins right behind him with 12.
The Fighting Illini started with the lead and never relinquished it, heading into halftime up 30 at a score of 63-33. Things were a bit closer in the second half with Illinois taking their foot off the gas pedal, only outscoring the Hawks 40-32. The Fighting Illini’s Terrence Shannon Jr. proved to be too much for Monmouth to handle with his electrifying 30-point, 8-rebound performance, and ultimately served as the catalyst to the 38-point loss for the Hawks.
Up next, the Hawks will return home to OceanFirst Bank Center on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. to take on Norfolk State in their first home game of the year, still seeking their first victory of the season.