– Monmouth University fell victim to a late Pioneer run in an 82-68 defeat at Sacred Heart University in Northeast Conference action on Saturday night in the Pitt Center. The Hawks, who led 56-46 with 12:48 left, were outscored 36-12 over the final 12 minutes to fall to 8-13 overall and 3-5 in the NEC.
After Marcus Ware
’s (Vineland, N.J./Vineland) post move reclaimed a 68-67 lead for Monmouth with 4:51 remaining, the Pioneers rattled off a 15-0 run to end the game, which included three three-point trips, to improve to 6-2 in the NEC.
Monmouth, which was paced by Dion Nesmith
’s (Union, N.J./Union) 16 points, his second straight double-digit game, and Stephen Spinella
’s (Colts Neck, N.J./Apex Academy) 11 points and seven boards, hit 14-of-25 from the free throw line, while SHU went 24-of-31, including 19-of-22 in the second half.
In the decisive 15-0 swing to end the game, Louis Montes notched nine points, on a three-pointer and two three-point plays.
“I applaud Sacred Heart. Those kids kept fighting,” stated head coach King Rice
. “I thought we controlled the game for 30 minutes and then we totally went to sleep the last 10 minutes. Unfortunately, when you do that you are not going to win many games.”
Following alternating baskets from Nesmith and Ed Waite
(Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest), the Hawks grabbed a 10-6 edge at 15:39, the Pioneers knotted the game at 10-10 on Shane Gibson’s fast break lay-up. The Hawks answered with the next six points to haul in a 16-10 advantage on Max DiLeo
’s (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) drive across the lane with 13:00 left, and after a Tyrone O’Garro (Newark, N.J./Saint Peter’s Prep) lay-in and a Christian White
(Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas Institute) wing jumper, MU held a 23-17 lead with 9:20 showing.
The Pioneers answered with a 9-0 run over 2:22 of action to take a 26-23 lead with 6:52 remaining in the half, but the Hawks responded with 10-0 streak, including back-to-back three-pointers from White and Nesmith, in just 1:31 of play to take a 33-26 lead with 4:04 left.
(Milford, N.J./Oak Hill Academy) drilled a trey at 2:15 to push Monmouth ahead 36-28, while Spinella’s hoop off a feed from Jalen Palm
(Louisville, Kent./Butler Traditional) gave the Hawks a 38-31 cushion with 1:25 showing. After a Montes three-point play, Spinella dropped in a basket as the shot clock expired off an inbounds play, before a Gibson free throw with 3.5 left accounted for the halftime tally of 40-35.
After Monmouth built its 10-point cushion at the 12:48 mark of the second half, Gibson scored 19 straight points for the Pioneers, which resulted in a 65-64 SHU lead with 5:48 left.
Gibson, who scored 24 second half points, finished with a game-high 33, including 15-of-17 from the foul line. Montes added 25 on 9-of-13 shooting, while Phil Gaetano dished out 13 assists.
Monmouth, which hit 25-of-60 (.41.7%) from the field, got nine points and five boards from Ware, and seven points and four assists from Steele.
Monmouth returns to action on Thursday, January 31, when the Hawks host Central Connecticut State University in Northeast Conference action in the MAC at 7:00 p.m.
Follow Monmouth Men’s Basketball on Twitter - @MonmouthBBall