BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Junior Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) tallied a team-high 16 points, while sophomore Tyrone O'Garro (Newark, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) hauled in 11 rebounds, but Monmouth University's late rally fell short in a 60-56 loss to Fairfield University at Webster Bank Arena in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play on Friday night.
Monmouth, which trailed 49-40 with 8:38 left following a 20-6 run by the Stags, put together a 12-0 spurt to retake a 52-49 lead with 4:55 remaining on freshman Josh James' (White Plains, N.Y./Archbishop Stepinac) drive, and held a 54-53 edge on an O'Garro basket with 3:13 left.
Fairfield reclaimed the lead on Maurice Barrow's basket, 55-54, with 1:39 left and took a 57-54 advantage on two Barrow free throws with 36.1 left.
Trailing by three, junior Max DiLeo (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) hauled in an offensive rebound following Nicholas' game-tying three-point attempt, and was fouled in the act of shooting a three-pointer with 4.5 ticks on the clock. DiLeo hit the first two, but following a Fairfield timeout, missed the game-tying third, which forced MU to foul. After Fairfield hit two more free throws with 3.4 left to go back up three, 59-56, Monmouth was disallowed a timeout at midcourt, and the Stags hit one final foul shot for the four-point win.
"This was a tough night for us," stated head coach King Rice. "But Fairfield made more plays than us down the stretch to get the win."
Monmouth built a 10-2 lead on James’ short jumper with 15:48 showing, while the Hawks held on to a 12-5 edge following a pair of free throws from DiLeo at 12:26. Two more foul shots from freshman Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston) and a three-point play from junior Deon Jones (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School/Towson) had the Blue & White ahead 19-11 with 8:27 left.
Fairfield responded with a 12-3 run over 4:40 of action to take its first lead, 23-22, with 2:55 remaining on two Marcus Gilbert free throws, but two freshman Zac Tillman (Yeadon, Pa./Shipley School) foul shots and a redshirt freshman Collin Stewart (Glenville, N.Y./Mekeel Christian Academy) free throw pushed MU back ahead 25-23 with 1:49 showing.
With the game tied at 25-25, Robinson drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Hawks a 28-25 advantage with 55 seconds left, but K.J. Rose’s basket with 39 ticks on the board pulled Fairfield within 28-27 at the intermission.
Jones added 10 points with five rebounds, while James, in his first career start tallied eight points, five rebounds and two assists. DiLeo added four points and six rebounds for the Hawks, who shot 34.5% (19-55) from the field.
Fairfield (5-19, 2-11 MAAC), which had three players in double-figures, trailed 34-29 with 16:14 left before the Stags rattled off their 20-6 run to go ahead 49-40. The Stags shot 39.6% (21-53) from the field and 5-16 from beyond the arc.
Monmouth (10-14, 4-9 MAAC) returns to action on Sunday, February 9 when the Hawks travel to Jersey City for a MAAC contest at Saint Peter’s University at 2:00 p.m.
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