Men’s Basketball Falls Twice to Fairfield and Niagara

M Basketball 02.07.18Men’s basketball lost to the Fairfield Stags and the Niagara Purple Eagles by a combined six points on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday night, Monmouth lost to Fairfield 79-78. The Hawks were up 78-77 with 2.1 seconds left before the Stags hit a runner to give them the one point lead. The play was preceded by a controversial no call on a potential travel violation which would of gave Monmouth the ball with the one point lead.

“Everybody in the building saw what happened,” Monmouth Head Coach King Rice said. “You know what happened, I know what happened. Just the people that’s supposed to know what happened didn’t see it.”

After the made basket and two Monmouth timeouts, freshman guard Deion Hammond missed the potential game-winning three-pointer with time-expiring.

After Fairfield went into the first media timeout up 14-11, the blue and white went on a 13-2 run to take a 22-16 lead midway through the first half.

Monmouth went into halftime up 49-41 lead with Hammond scoring all of his ten points in the first half. The Hawks shot 58 percent in the first half.

In the second half, Fairfield went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead at 50-49. The Stags and Hawks would go back and forth for the rest of the half, with Fairfield having the biggest lead with seven points in the second half.

“Give Fairfield all the credit in the world,” Rice said. “Their kids made enough plays down the stretch to get the win.”

For the game, senior center Zac Tillman had a career-high 18 points while going a perfect 10-10 from the line. Hammond finished with ten points and a career-high six rebounds. Senior guard Austin Tilghman had another impressive game, scoring 14 points with nine assists and seven rebounds.

Monmouth then lost to Niagara 96-91 on Super Bowl Sunday in another close finish.

The Hawks went into halftime with a 44-42 lead, with the half including six lead changes. Freshman forward Melik Martin scored ten points while being a perfect 2-2 from behind the arc in the half.

The Purple Eagles would start the second half going on an 8-0 run to take the 50-44 lead. Niagara’s lead would be as high as 11 in the second half and be up by ten with 2:55 left in the game before Monmouth would close the gap.

The Hawks would bring it to within one after a pair of Martin free throws to make it 92-91 with 29 seconds left. Niagara would earn a pair of free throws and Monmouth would miss a pair of threes to make it the final score of 96-91.

“I feel bad for my kids, we’re just good enough right now to fall a little bit short,” Rice said.

For the blue and white, Hammond finished with 14 points, the game being his sixth in a row finishing with double figures. Sophomore guard Louie Pillari had a team-high 18 points with four three pointers. Martin earned a career-high 17 points in the contest.

The Hawks (7-16, 3-8 MAAC) will look to rebound as they face two tough away games, first against defending conference champions Iona on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7:00 p.m. then Manhattan on Sat. Feb 10 at 7:00 p.m. Monmouth will then return home for an hOURglass rivalry game against St. Peters on Tuesday, Feb 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the OceanFirst Bank Center.

PHOTO TAKEN by Karlee Sell