Men’s Basketball Loses Home Opener vs. Princeton

Monmouth Men’s Basketball (1-2) played in their home opener this past Saturday, Nov. 18, at OceanFirst Bank Center where they took on the undefeated Princeton Tigers (4-0). The Hawks battled to stay competitive throughout the game, but ultimately could not get the job done at home, resulting in an 82-57 road victory for the Princeton Tigers.

Sophomore forward Caden Pierce led the charge for the Tigers as he was able to rack up 20 points and ten rebounds against the Hawks. Senior guard Matt Allocco contributed to Princeton’s success as he put up 19 points and six rebounds.

On the Hawks’ side of things, graduate student and guard Xander Rice put up a team-high 16 points. Additionally, sophomore guard Jack Collins had 12 rebounds, which is a career high. Freshman forward Cornealius Robinson Jr. had nine points and five rebounds, the best stats of his young collegiate career.
The Tigers had a field goal percentage of 40.6% compared to Monmouth’s 35.1%. The Hawks were outrebounded by the Tigers at a rate of 43-36. Notably, the Tigers hit six more three-pointers and got four more steals than the Hawks, helping Princeton secure the victory.

At the beginning of the game, both teams went back and forth until the Hawks jumped to a five-point lead with 10:03 left in the first half, thanks to a three-pointer from sharp-shooting freshman guard Abdi Bashir Jr.

Princeton didn’t let the Hawks’ run last much longer as the Tigers’ offense would go on a run of their own and take the lead after a three-pointer from sophomore guard Xaivian Lee. This made the score 23-22 in favor of Princeton with 7:29 to go in the first half of play.

The Tigers continued to stay hot from behind the arc and gained a five-point lead after senior forward Zach Martini made a three-point jumper, causing Monmouth to fall behind by a score of 31-26 with 3:38 left in the first half.

In the last 2:33 of the first half the Tigers were able to go on a 7-0 run with all those points being scored by Pierce. This shifted the momentum going into halftime heavily towards Princeton as this quick run allowed the Tigers to take a 38-27 lead at the half.

Allocco started to get hot from behind the arc and made his second three of the second half with 15:14 left in the game, giving Princeton a convincing 49-35 lead.
The Hawks were soon able to cut the Tiger lead to eight points after a layup from Robinson Jr. with 12:07 left in the game.

Princeton quickly took back their double-digit lead 24 seconds later after junior guard Blake Peters splashed in a three-point jumper, making Monmouth’s deficit 11 points with the score being 54-43.
Later in the game, Lee sank another three-pointer, giving the Tigers a huge lead with the score of 68-52 with 5:14 left in the second half of play.

Princeton continued to excel in the final five minutes of the game, jumping to a 23-point lead. Monmouth cut into the Tigers’ lead after a three-pointer from freshman forward Quinn Peters. This basket put the score at 77-57 in favor of the Hawks with 1:17 left in the game.

This would be the last score the Hawks would get in the game, as the score eventually resulted in an 82-57 loss for Monmouth basketball.

Although the Hawks took the unfortunate loss at their home opener, the team was able to go on a hot streak over Thanksgiving break, winning three games in a row having faced Lehigh, Belmont, and Lafayette. The Hawks (4-3) will look to secure a victory on the road in their next game, as they will travel to Ithaca, New York, to take on Cornell University (5-1) on Wednesday, Nov. 29.