Friday, March 4, 2016

Monmouth moves through to MAAC semis as defense carries Hawks past Rider

By Norman Rose (@ECoastBias)

ALBANY, NY -- It was an off night for Monmouth star and MAAC Player of the Year Justin Robinson (nine points on 1/12 shooting), and a painful night for the Times Union Center rims, but Monmouth pulled out the win, 59-48, over the eighth-seeded Rider Broncs, who finish the season 13-20.

“Our shots weren’t falling today. Nobody shot that good except Chris [Brady]," Micah Seaborn said after the game.

Early on, Rider showed some mettle, making the Hawks struggle from the field. But Rider's bad combination of questionable offense and Monmouth's suffocating defense helped the Hawks open up a lead, starting with a 12-0 run. Forcing the Broncs to drive into the paint, Monmouth smacked the ball away 10 times in the half.

The Broncs were held to six points over sixteen minutes in that half, finishing at a 32-16 deficit. “I've been waiting for a game where the defense totally carries us," Hawks head coach and newly crowned MAAC Coach of the Year King Rice said. 

"Tough one today," said Rider coach Kevin Baggett. "Twenty-one turnovers was the biggest problem as far as us staying in the game." 

Rider came out with a little more spirit in the second half, even as Monmouth ballooned the lead to 22 points twice in the second half. Xavier Lundy dropped three three-pointers in a 16-1 run for Rider that brought the game within six points.

"I thought our guys became more aggressive. We were able to get some consecutive stops,” Baggett said of the run that made the game tighter than expected.

But eight points by Austin Tilghman down the stretch paced the Monmouth effort in a game they could not afford to lose if they wanted to keep the at large hopes alive. 

Seaborn led the Hawks with 14. Brady and Austin Tilghman added 12 crucial points each. Brady contributed nine total rebounds, three offensive.

Rider was led by Lundy's 14. Kahlil Thomas added eight and Khalil Alford chipped in seven.

Monmouth improves to 26-6. The Hawks play next on Sunday at 4:30 against the winner of tomorrow's Saint Peter's/ Fairfield game.

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