WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Monmouth University men's basketball earned its first-ever Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory on Thursday night, as the Hawks rallied from 10 points down in the second half to defeat Siena 63-59, in the MAC. Trailing 39-29 with 18:54 left, the Blue & White put together a 22-5 run to lead 51-44 with 11:40 showing, and connected on six free throws in the final minute to secure the win.
Monmouth, now 7-7 overall, improved to 1-2 in the MAAC, as the Hawks forced a season-high 23 turnovers, which turned into 22 points for MU. Nine different Hawks scored in the contest, led by freshman Josh James' (White Plains, N.Y./Archbishop Stepinac) 11 points and junior Max DiLeo's (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) 10 points and career-best six steals.
"I am very proud of my team. This was a game that we continued to fight for the whole 40 minutes," said head coach King Rice. "I take my hat off to [Siena coach] Jimmy Patsos because he is a tough guy to prepare for and he had his kids ready."
Rice, whose Hawks have comeback from double-digits down for victories five times this season, added, "I am happy that we got our first MAAC win and I hope that this is just the first of many more to come."
Freshman Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston) added nine points and three assists, while sophomore Tyrone O'Garro (Newark, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) notched eight points and eight rebounds and junior Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) registered six points, five assists and four blocks. Junior Khalil Brown (Queens, N.Y./Westwind Academy) also added eight points for the Hawks.
A pair of O’Garro baskets and freshman Chris Brady’s (Greenlawn, N.Y./Harborfields) lay-in at 16:24 gave the Hawks an early 6-2 lead, while back-to-back hoops from James and Brown pushed the Blue & White ahead 13-6 with 12:30 left. After MU grabbed a 19-13 lead on a Deon Jones (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School/Towson) drive with 9:04 remaining, the Saints put together a 9-0 run over 2:24 of play to grab a 22-19 lead.
Siena pushed its run to 12-1 on Rob Poole’s three-pointer to go in front 25-20 with 5:33 showing, and the Saints grabbed a nine-point lead twice, as late as 2:16 on the clock, on Evan Hymes’ drive, to go ahead 34-25.
Monmouth, which connected on one field goal in the final nine minutes of the half, climbed within 34-28 at the break following three Brown free throws.
Just 1:06 into the second half, the Saints grabbed a 10-point advantage, 39-29, on Poole’s three-pointer, but the Hawks responded with a 20-4 run to haul in a 49-43 lead on James’ three-point play with 12:33 showing.
Monmouth built its lead to 51-44 on a Nicholas jumper with 11:40 left, and held off the Saints, who got within three points on four different occasions, including 62-59 with 13.4 seconds left on a Poole trey from the top of the key, before a DiLeo free throw accounted for the final tally.
Poole led all scorers with 21 points and nine rebounds for Siena (5-9, 1-2 MAAC), which hit 5-of-11 from three-point range.
Monmouth returns to action on Saturday, January 4 when the Hawks host Quinnipiac in MAAC action, at 3:00 p.m. in the MAC.
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