Men’s Basketball Ends Regular Season With Slump

Monmouth traveled down to Virginia for their final two games of the regular season, playing against the University of Hampton on Thursday, Feb. 23 and William & Mary on Saturday, Feb. 25.

The Hawks first played at the Convocation Center, home to the Hampton Pirates. Hampton, ranked just below Monmouth in the CAA standings prior to the game, were very eager to beat the Hawks on their home ground to surpass Monmouth in the standings before the end of the season.

The Hawks started off strong through the hands of junior forwards Klemen Vuga and Myles Foster, quickly establishing a 4-0 lead in the first minute of the game. Shortly after, Hampton began to swing the momentum after a couple of timely three-pointers, providing a 14-7 lead for the Pirates with 15:42 left on the clock.

After some grinding, the Hawks cut the Hampton lead down to just two, but were unable to keep it going. With just under six minutes left in the first half the Hawks found themselves down 12, but more strong play from the tandem of Vuga and Foster brought Monmouth within a manageable five points.

The two teams would head into the locker rooms at a score of 45-40, in favor of Hampton.

Head Coach King Rice and his players were well aware that this game was far from over, and despite Hampton putting the first points on the board in the second half, Monmouth answered right away through freshman guard Jack Collins. Hampton, however, refused to let their advantage slip and quickly built their lead up to 20 with a little more than eight minutes remaining.

The Hawks gave their all as Collins began the most successful run of the game for Monmouth, hitting a three from the corner. Four straight foul shots, another three, and a couple of strong finishes at the rim brought the game within two once again, this time with just 4:31 left on the clock. Once again, the Hawks stormed back into a game, this time thanks to a 16-0 run.

The next few minutes showed how equally strong both offenses were, keeping each other no more than seven points apart. Monmouth emptied their tanks, but their efforts were all for naught as Hampton pulled away with an 86-81 win.

After a devastating loss earlier in the week, the Hawks looked for a bounce-back performance against William & Mary on Saturday, Feb. 25 in the last game of their inaugural season in the CAA.

Monmouth had a near-identical start to their last game, quickly racing out to a 4-0 lead. The first half was very evenly matched between both sides, and each time one team would try to establish a foothold on the lead, the other team would straighten their back and tie the game. The first period saw four ties, with both teams showing their ability to keep pace with the other. The Hawks took a four-point lead at 11:10 but squandered it in short order, with the Tribe turning the tables and taking an eight-point lead. The Hawks responded with a 11-4 run, going into halftime at a slender one-point deficit, 39-38.

Monmouth took the lead straight out of the locker room after a great layup by Foster. High tempo, back-and-forth play from both sides kept the game interesting and built an intense atmosphere. Thanks to sophomore guard Tahron Allen, Monmouth staked claim to a five-point lead, but the recent stretch of close, down-to-the-wire games caught up to the Hawks. William & Mary took advantage of having the fresher legs and managed to pull away from Monmouth in the second half, defeating the Hawks 74-62.

The Hawks will begin postseason play in the first round of the CAA Tournament in a rematch against Hampton on Friday, March 3.