Monmouth Men’s Basketball (1-1) took a trip down to West Virginia University to take on the Mountaineers (1-1) this past Friday, Nov. 11. The Hawks shocked many in the world of college basketball as they stormed into the WVU Coliseum and pulled off a thrilling 73-65 upset victory over the Mountaineers.
The Hawks’ efforts were led by a stellar performance from graduate student and guard Xander Rice, as he put up a grand total of 30 points. Sophomore guard Jack Collins also impressed with a double-double that consisted of 17 points and 10 rebounds. This statement victory was the ninth time the Hawks have beaten a high-major program under the coaching of King Rice.
Monmouth’s shooting was noticeably better as their field goal percentage was 45.5% compared to West Virginia’s 31.3%. On top of that, the Hawks shot 43.5% behind the arc, which was much better than the 21.9% the Mountaineers advertised.
At the beginning of the first half, the Hawks started off slow, going down by the score of 5-0 after about three minutes of play. The Hawks would gain confidence after the slow start, though, and eventually tie the game at 10-10 thanks to a three-pointer made by Collins with 14:29 to go in the first half.
Monmouth took their first lead of the game at 12:28 in the first half when freshman guard Abdi Bashir Jr. made a three-pointer of his own, making the score 15-12 in favor of the Hawks. With 4:55 left in the first half, a foul on fifth-year center Jesse Edwards allowed Rice to shoot three free throws in which he went 3-3, putting the Hawks up 27-22.
The Mountaineers responded quickly, and a three-pointer from fifth-year forward Quinn Slazinski would tie the game at 27-27 with 2:32 to go in the first half of play. The two teams continued to keep pace with each other until Edwards made a two-point jumper with one second left in the half, putting the Mountaineers up 33-32 at halftime.
The Hawks came into the second half with some fire as both Rice and Collins made three-point shots within 31 seconds of each other, putting the score at 40-35 in favor of Monmouth with 17:08 to go in the second half.
Monmouth then continued to hold onto the lead, and with 13:57 left in the game, Collins made another three-pointer that put the Hawks up 49-40. Just a few minutes later, the Mountaineers were able to cut deep into the Hawks’ lead and were only down by a score of 49-47 after a Slazinski three-pointer with 11:29 left to go.
With 3:59 left in the game, Rice made the Mountaineers’ hopes slim as his three-pointer put the Hawks ahead by the score of 66-53.
In the last minute of the game, Rice and senior guard Jakari Spence both made clutch free throws, which eliminated hopes of a potential comeback for the Mountaineers and resulted in a notable 73-65 victory for the Monmouth Hawks.
Monmouth will look to stay hot on Saturday, Nov. 18, as they will host the Princeton Tigers (2-0) for the Hawks home opener at The OceanFirst Bank Center.