MEN'S BASKETBALL ERASES DEFICIT, DEFEATS ST. FRANCIS 71-67
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. - Jesse Steele (Milford, N.J./Oak Hill Academy [Army]) scored 17 of his game-high 20 points in a second-half rally that propelled the Monmouth University men's basketball team to a come-from-behind 71-67 victory over St. Francis Brooklyn Thursday night on Peter Aquilone Court. The Hawks erased a seven-point halftime deficit to move to 7-11 (2-3 NEC). The Terriers fall to 7-9 (3-2 NEC) with the loss.
Steele's season-high 20 points came on 6-of-13 shooting and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Stephen Spinella (Colts Neck, N.J./Apex Academy [South Carolina]) chipped in with nine points and five rebounds. Freshmen Tyrone O'Garro (Newark, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) and Christian White (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas Institute) added career-highs of nine and eight points, respectively, while O'Garro and Ed Waite (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest) paced the Hawks with seven rebounds apiece. The Hawks outrebounded St. Francis, 41-34.
Ben Mockford led St. Francis with 15 points, while Akeem Johnson (14) and Jalen Cannon (13) also finished in double figures for the Terriers. Cannon also added a game-high eight rebounds.
After the Terriers won the tip and scored on their first possession, MU went on an 8-0 run to take an 8-2 advantage. St. Francis responded with the next six points to tie the game and neither team could create more than four points of separation until Mockford's three-pointer at the 4:13 mark made it 27-22 St. Francis. Following an Ed Waite putback, Mockford knocked down another trifecta and Cannon made 1-of-2 free throws to give SFC a 31-24 lead. The teams traded two made free throws each to account for a seven-point Terrier lead, 33-26, at the half.
Nine different players scored for both teams in the first half, led by Cannon with seven for the Terriers. Dion Nesmith (Union, N.J./Union [Northeastern]), Spinella and Marcus Ware (Vineland, N.J./Vineland) paced Monmouth with four points each. The Hawks outshot the Terriers, 45.8 percent (11-24) to 36.1 percent (13-36) from the floor, but SFC grabbed nine offensive rebounds to outscore Monmouth in second-chance points, 16-6, prior to halftime.
The teams exchanged 6-0 runs to begin the second half before Monmouth outscored the Terriers, 27-8, over the next 10 minutes to open a double-digit lead, 59-47, with 7:45 remaining. White's three-pointer at the 12:49 mark gave Monmouth its first lead since just prior to the nine-minute mark of the first half, and following a St. Francis free throw that tied the game, two Steele free throws gave Monmouth the lead for good at the 12:09 mark. Steele scored nine points during the Hawks' scoring spurt, and Khalil Brown (South Orange, N.J./Westwind Academy [Ariz.]) punctuated the run with a putback slam to put Monmouth on top by 12.
Steele scored 15 of his 17 second-half points after the Hawks took the lead for good, helping Monmouth protect the lead. The Terriers threatened late, with Travis Nichols' three-pointer cutting the Monmouth lead to three with nine seconds remaining. But Nesmith made 1-of-2 free throws on the ensuing possession to put the game out of reach.
For the game, the Hawks outshot the Terriers, 50.0 percent (25-50) to 35.3 percent (24-68) from the floor, 30.0 percent (3-10) to 27.6 percent (8-29) from long range and 66.7 percent (18-27) to 52.4 percent (11-21) from the free-throw line. The Hawks took a 41-34 edge on the boards and a 40-30 advantage in points in the paint. The Terriers took a 22-14 edge on second-chance points.
The Hawks continue Northeast Conference play Saturday afternoon at LIU Brooklyn. Opening tip from the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.