Men’s Basketball Still Seeking Elusive First Victory

Monmouth University men’s basketball team (0-4, 0-0 CAA) continued their season against Norfolk State (2-2, 0-0 MEAC) with their first home game at the OceanFirst Bank Center, West Long Branch, NJ on Thursday Nov. 17.

During the first half, the visiting Spartans showed strong efforts which allowed them a 10 point advantage over the Hawks. Monmouth quickly responded as they fought back thanks to strong efforts from Jack Collins and Jack Holmstrom, hitting consecutive threes before Holmstrom cleaned up a miss to make it a three-point contest. Collins continued to aid the team by giving the Hawks two more triples and the final three at the 7:35 mark that propelled Monmouth within one point of the Spartans. The Hawks left it all on the court, but the Spartans proved too much to handle as they held on for the five-point victory, 64-59.

While the team left empty-handed on their home court with a fourth consecutive loss, Head Coach King Rice believed that the team’s growth was visible up and down the court in a close game, one in which the Hawks were within striking distance all the way up to the final minute. “I thought my kids tonight grew up a whole bunch. I’m not big on the ‘proud’ word and hate losing and all that, but our kids really, really fought. For these kids to come out here and compete against an NCAA Tournament team, which they are, with a bunch of older guys that have been together and we were right there and had a chance.”

On Monday evening, the Hawks’ (0-5) struggles continued, adding to their losing streak as they were outlasted by Colgate University (3-2) at Cotterell Court in Hamilton, NY.

The Hawks had several notable stretches throughout the game, but their hot patches were not consistent enough to secure Monmouth’s first victory of the season. Down just three points shortly after a Klemen Vuga foul-line jumper at the 5:05 mark, Colgate kept the game moving as they hit three straight triples to push them into halftime with a 41-29 lead. A second half Hawks run, capped by strong efforts from Collins’ finish at the rim, cut it down to nine at the 15:32 mark. Andrew Ball’s fadeaway helped reduce the difference further to eight, but the home team continued to fend off the tenacious Hawks, eventually winning by a 19-point margin, 85-66.

Sophomore Jayden Doyle netted 10 points, a career best and his first game in double-digits. Scoring leader Myles Foster scored in double figures for the third time in five games, and junior Myles Ruth notched his first double-digit scoring game this season and fifth of his career. Amaan Sandhu’s five rebounds marked the best of his freshman campaign, while Vuga knocked down his first three of the year.

On Friday, the Hawks (0-6) returned to their home court for a post-Thanksgiving showdown, stumbling to their sixth consecutive loss at the hands of Cornell University (5-1).

During the first half with Cornell up 8-4, Monmouth used a 14-1 run, which included two Collins triples, to generate a nine-point lead on their home court. The Big Red responded in no time as they continued to push forward, only to see an athletic Collins make another triple and Vuga convert twice inside to lead the Hawks to a seven point lead. Cornell finished the period on a run of their own to lead 39-27 into the locker room going into halftime.

Cornell quickly scored the first five points of the second half to lead by 17 and never looked back. The Hawks still put up a strong fight against the Big Red. Tahron Allen netted all 15 of his points in the final period, but it still wasn’t enough to take the victory from the Big Red as they ultimately won the non-conference tilt by 18, 81-63.

Monmouth University (0-7) then traveled to take on Lehigh University (4-2) at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. on Sunday night where the team of young Hawks were still unable to find their way.

Despite another loss, this was Monmouth’s best effort of the season. The Hawks’ performance allowed them to take the lead in the second half, as they endlessly fought to the final buzzer, with game leader Foster netting a career-best 21 points for the team, but still came up short at Lehigh University’s home court with a 4 point advantage that gave the Mountain Hawks the win, 80-76.

After a close back-and-forth battle during the early stretch, Monmouth used an 11-0 run led by Ball and Foster to give the Hawks an early 24-18 lead. Collins’ late triple was enough to put Monmouth up one with 1:28 to go in the first half, but Lehigh’s Evan Taylor gave the Mountain Hawks the halftime advantage 39-38.

After another Hawks run coming out of halftime, Sandhu’s free throw at 5:46 pushed MU to a 61-60 lead, and after the home team captured a four-point lead again, Allen finished twice in a row in the lane to tie the score at 68. However, after knotting things up, Taylor’s three at the 1:43 mark gave LU a three-point advantage. The Hawks were unable to reclaim their lead, as Lehigh efficiently managed the ball and killed the rest of the clock off, winning 80-76.

Up next, the Hawks will head to Lawrenceville, NJ to take on Rider University on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m., still seeking their first victory of the season.