Men’s Basketball Opens MAAC Play 2-0

MB Win Canisus 91 72The men’s basketball team opened up Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play with two victories defeating Quinnipiac 91-72 on Dec. 1 and Canisius by six points at OceanFirst Bank Center on Dec. 4.

The Hawks had a four point halftime lead on Canisius, but the Golden Griffs would not go down without a fight. They came out of the intermission and made four consecutive three-pointers to take a five point lead and led by as much as seven after a three by Chris Atkinson, who was 3-3 from deep, that gave the visitors a 77-70 lead with 9:57 to play.

But two of the league’s top players, who combined for 53 points on the day, stepped up when they were needed the most. Senior point guard Justin Robinson scored 11 of his 28 points in the final eight minutes of the contest while sophomore guard Micah Seaborn finished the day with 25 points, six of those coming in that same frame, and had a key steal and layup at 1:43 that gave Monmouth a five point lead at that point.

“Players win basketball games and our kids today really had to dig deep to get this done,” Monmouth Head Coach King Rice said after the game. “With saying that, that is a credit to Canisius and their head coach, Reggie Witherspoon. I’ve known him a long time and I’ve admired his work as a coach. His team was well prepared and they played how you should to try to beat us and they did everything right, but our kids pulled it out down the stretch.”

“My biggest thing this year is being a leader throughout the entire course of the game,” Robinson said. “Every year I’ve gotten better at being a leader. When it comes time for crunch time, the ball is in my hands. But if it’s not me, it’s Micah or Je’lon. We’re three interchangeable guards, but we all want the ball at the end of the game.”

Senior guards Je’lon Hornbeak and Collin Stewart combined for 10 three-pointers in the Hawks’ 91-72 win over Quinnipiac. Stewart was a perfect 6-6 from the floor, and 5-5 from deep to lead the blue and white with 20 points – one point shy of his career high - while Hornbeak was 5-9 from deep and finished with a season-high 18 points.

“I have a bunch of kids that can really shoot and are known as shooters, and you would not want them to get an open look,” Rice said. “Tonight we moved it around and continued to get open looks. When these guys get open looks, they’re going to make them.”

While both players were productive scoring the ball, their primary focus on the night was on defense.

“My mindset coming into the game was to play defense and get rebounds and my shots fell, so I’m happy about that,” said Stewart.

“The main thing we wanted to do tonight was play defense,” Hornbeak said. “We know they’ve always been a good rebounding team, so we wanted to keep them off the glass.”

“I have to credit my teammates and my coaching staff. They’re giving me confidence by telling me to keep shooting, find a rhythm and keep going,” Hornbeak added.

The Hawks return to West Long Branch on Saturday, Dec. 10 when they take on an Army West Point team that defeated the Hawks, 91-84 at West Point last season. Tip-off at OceanFirst Bank Center will be at 7 p.m. and will broadcast on ESPN3.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University Athletics