WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Junior Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) connected on two three-pointers in the final 10 seconds of action, including the game-winner with one second remaining, to lift Monmouth University to an 83-82 comeback victory over Canisius College on Sunday afternoon in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) action.
Once trailing by 14 points in the second half, Nicholas drained a trey with 8.1 left to pull the Hawks within 82-80, before MU fouled Canisius' Billy Baron (a 92.0% free throw shooter) with 6.7 on the clock. Baron missed the front end of the one-and-one, which junior Deon Jones (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School/Towson) hauled in, pushed to midcourt and passed to Nicholas on the wing, who drilled the go-ahead trifecta over three Griffs, with 1.0 second showing.
"We were very fortunate for Baron to miss that free throw," stated Nicholas, who finished with a game-high 28 points, including 18 in the second half. "I was expecting Deon [Jones] to drive and get to the basket, but two went to him, so I spotted up, double-pumped it, and somehow it went in. It was very fortunate."
Trailing 55-41 with 14:09 left, Monmouth got within 65-60 following a pair of junior Khalil Brown (Queens, N.Y./Westwind Academy) free throws to cap a 9-2 run, with 5:23 showing. Canisius built the lead back to nine, 73-64, on Jordan Heath's corner three-pointer, at 3:25, before back-to-back treys from junior Max DiLeo (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) and Jones pulled MU within 73-70 with 2:25 remaining.
Jones converted a conventional three-point play to trim the deficit to 75-74 with 1:05 showing, before the Golden Griffins used a 7-3 spurt over 41 seconds to hold an 82-77 advantage with 14.4 ticks following a pair of Baron foul shots.
"I am very proud of this team for sticking together, continuing to believe in each other and continuing to try their hardest," said head coach King Rice, whose Hawks are now 3-5 in the MAAC. "We made some tough, tough shots down the stretch today. It was a total team effort, from being in practice, to our guys on the floor and then to the fans for staying with us today when we got down. It's all starting to come together."
Nicholas, who hit 10-of-18 from the floor, notched his third 20+ point outing for the Hawks this season, while classmate Jones registered his second straight double-double for MU, with 20 points (6-of-8 FG, 3-of-4 3FG), 11 rebounds and five assists. DiLeo, who hit three three-pointers as well, added 15 points for the Blue & White, who shot 52.6% from the field, including 55.9% (19-34) in the second half.
The Hawks, who have now earned six victories this season after trailing by double-digits, posted its largest comeback win of the season, while forcing Canisius into a season-high 24 turnovers.
A Jones three-pointer and Nicholas’ jumper in the lane gave Monmouth an early 5-3 lead at 18:37, while freshman Zac Tillman’s (Yeadon, Pa./Shipley School) lay-up off a feed from Jones had the Hawks within 8-7 with 17:46 left. Canisius answered with the next five to grab a 13-7 advantage and led 20-13 following a Phil Valenti basket with 12:32 showing.
Baskets from freshman Chris Brady (Greenlawn, N.Y./Harborfields) and Nicholas got MU within 24-20 at 9:30, but the Griffs responded with an 11-3 to take a 35-23 lead with 3:57 left in the stanza. MU, which went six-plus minutes in-between field goals, got a three-pointer from DiLeo and a Nicholas drive to climb within 35-28 with 2:22 remaining and trailed 36-28 at the intermission.
Baron led five Golden Griffins in double-figures with 21 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals (eight turnovers). Canisius, which hit 18-of-22 from the free throw line, shot 51.0% (26-51) from the field for the game, and falls to 12-7 overall and 6-2 in MAAC play.
Sophomore Tyrone O'Garro (Newark, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) added five points, six rebounds and five steals for the Hawks, who connected on 15-of-26 from the line.
Monmouth returns to action on Thursday, January 23 when the Hawks host Fairfield University in MAAC action in the Multipurpose Activity Center at 7:00 p.m., to be broadcast on ESPN3.
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