The Monmouth University men’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the 2023 CAA Tournament after defeating Hampton 100-64 on March 3, before being eliminated by Drexel 64-45 just one day later.
The Hawks were blessed in the first round with a host of high-scoring efforts, especially from freshman guard Jack Collins, who scored a career-high 32 in the dominant victory. Four other Monmouth players scored in double-digits, en route to Monmouth setting the CAA record for the largest margin of victory in their annual tournament. Collins came out strong in the first half, scoring 25 of his 32 points to help the Hawks race out to a 12 point lead that would extend to 21 at halftime. Leading 55-34, the Hawks’ 55 first-half points tied the CAA Tournament record for points in a half.
Junior forward Klemen Vuga perpetuated his strong play through the end of the season, adding another 15 points. Fellow juniors Myles Foster and Myles Ruth added 14 and 18, respectively. Collins reached the 30-point mark with a four-point play to extend the Hawks’ lead to 79-46. The final point of that play gave the Hawks their 36-point lead and granted them the CAA record.
Collins, who was named to the CAA All-Rookie Team on March 2, took some time to reflect on the win after the game, recognizing that “We have nothing to hold back. Every game could be our last game so it’s really about coming out every time and playing as hard as we can, playing freely in a win or go home game and that’s what we did today.”
Unfortunately, for the Hawks, their next game would in fact be their last of the season, falling to Drexel in a much lower-scoring affair than their previous matchup against Hampton.
A backcourt duo of sophomore Tahron Allen and junior Jakari Spence led the way in the scoring department with 10 points each, while Vuga chipped in seven points. Vuga, alongside senior forward Jarvis Vaughan, each picked up four boards in the first half, despite their efforts going mostly unrewarded.
Spence and Foster scored Monmouth’s first five buckets of the second half to hack their deficit down to 12 at 15:36. Ultimately, Drexel was too consistent offensively to allow the Hawks back into the game, and the Hawks’ 16-point halftime deficit proved too much to overcome despite being outscored in the second half by just three and in total, resulted in a 64-45 loss.
Head Coach King Rice humbly gave “. . . Zach [Spiker] and Drexel a lot of credit. You can see their adjustments early in the game, he had his kids ready to go, we couldn’t really get it going on the inside, then my two big guys got in foul trouble. It made it a tough day for us today.”
With their loss, Monmouth officially concluded their first season in the CAA conference. Foster and Collins both finished the season averaging double-digit scoring, with the Hawks managing a 7-26 overall record, and a 5-13 record in the CAA.