Men's Basketball Goes on Road Trip

MBB 02.19.20Monmouth men’s basketball began their three-game road trip with an 85-71 victory at Canisius before dropping game two of the trip to Niagara, 72-77.

Junior guard George Papas was the talk of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) after scoring a career-high 32 points while draining seven shots from behind the arc in Friday night’s win. This was the second time in as many games that a MU scorer reached this mark after junior guard Deion Hammond scored 30 last week versus Saint Peter’s.

“George is one of the most incredible shooters, it doesn’t matter what level,” said head coach King Rice. “If you watch him work out, he makes them all the time. It’s a confidence thing.”

Papas hit two threes late in the second half to stretch the MU lead to seven and then later put the Golden Griffins away after scoring his 30th point to go up 15.

“George has to always think if he gets a chance to shoot its going in, and tonight he felt it and that thing was going in like it always does,” said Rice. “All credit to him, nobody works harder and he’s proved himself at this level.”

The other scorers for the blue and white in double figures on Friday night were the usuals, junior guard Ray Salnave who finished with 14 and Hammond who poured in 11. Junior forward Melik Martin and sophomore forward Nikkei Rutty tied for the team-lead in rebounds with six a piece despite the team getting out-rebounded 37-36.

Monmouth however redeemed themselves by out-shooting Canisius 49.1 percent to 40.3 percent and winning the points off turnovers battle 25-10.

“This was a really big win for us especially coming off two losses,” Said Rice. “We had some great practices this week, very intense. We just needed to get everybody’s attention again so we could play Monmouth Basketball. Tonight, we played harder, Canisius played super hard too but we played harder. We stayed together which we haven’t done all the time this year.”

It really was a group effort for the boys of Long Branch who outscored Canisius off the bench 40-28 and on the fast break by a massive 22-2 margin leading to the double-digit victory.

Monmouth followed up Friday’s huge win with a nail-biting loss to Niagara on Sunday afternoon. 

Martin led the Hawks in scoring for the first time this season with a season-high 14 points while Papas and Hammond were the only other players in double-figures. Salnave managed to haul in an impressive seven rebounds while dishing out five assists in the loss despite breaking a nine-game double-digit scoring streak.

In the loss Monmouth still managed to out rebound the Purple Eagles 36-35 while leading in points off the bench 37-16 and points off turnovers 20-10. The major discrepancy in the game was field goal percentage as Niagara outshot the blue and white by nearly 10 percent.

“You have to play for 40 minutes,” said Rice. “We had the ball at half court up two, we got stripped, we came back down, called a play and had the ball right under the basket before we bobble it out of bounds. The game was over right then, because that can’t happen at crunch time. Give Niagara all the credit, they outplayed us in the second half.”

Monmouth will look to rebound on Friday night as they close out their road trip with a matchup at Marist starting at 7:00 p.m.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth Athletics