WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.
– Highlighted by Jesse Steele
’s (Milford, N.J./Oak Hill Academy) game-high 26 points and Ed Waite
’s (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest) 23 points, the Monmouth University men’s basketball team defeated St. Francis Brooklyn 73-64 in Northeast Conference action in the MAC on Saturday night.
Steele, who scored 14 second half points and went 10-for-10 from the free throw line, added a season-high tying eight assists, while Waite, who hit his first 10 field goals, posted his second-straight 20-point outing, while registering his 1,000th career point for the Blue and White.
Waite, whose 10-for-11 (.909) was the second-best individual game field goal percentage in school history, scored his 1000th career point on a lay-up at 10:18, which resulted in a three-point play, and gave the Hawks a 50-47 lead. Waite, who has averaged 19.0 points for the Hawks over his last four games, added six rebounds as well to give the forward 636 career boards.
Waite, who became Monmouth's 19th Division I player to reach the milestone and 32nd player all-time, said, “Words can’t explain how I feel right now just being able to leave my mark here at Monmouth University. It means a lot to me and is very exciting.”
With the game tied 55-55 at the 6:40 mark, the Hawks ended the contest on an 18-9 run for the league victory, which improved MU’s record to 5-9 in the NEC. During the decisive streak, the Hawks went 12-for-12 from the free throw line.
“I am really proud of these kids. We kept fighting. We kept answering every time they hit us with something,” stated head coach King Rice
. “Ed has been incredible the last couple of weeks, playing like a senior and leading our team. I am so proud of him for getting 1,000 points. And Jesse, what can you say. He was making shots tonight, playing great defense and leading our team, not just scoring points. Tonight was a great team effort, and we’ll take these one at a time.”
The Blue and White, which also got 11 points and six rebounds from Stephen Spinella
(Colts Neck, N.J./Apex Academy) and a career-tying nine boards from Tyrone O'Garro
(Newark, N.J./Saint Peter’s Prep), hit for a season-best 56.5% (26-46) from the field, including 14-of-23 (60.9%) in the first half, and 18-of-19 from the foul line (94.7%).
Monmouth built an early 10-5 lead following Waite’s lay-up, before consecutive three-pointers from Travis Nichols gave the Terriers their first lead, 11-10, at 15:19. Following Waite’s fourth basket in the opening 5:09 of play, Marcus Ware
’s (Vineland, N.J./Vineland) three-point play put MU ahead 15-13 at 14:10.
After St. Francis knotted the game at 15-15 at 13:45, Steele drilled a three to put Monmouth in front 18-15 and the Hawks pushed their advantage to 29-19 following a Ware jumper at 5:59, and 33-22 on Steele’s jumper in the lane with 4:35 remaining in the stanza.
The Terriers, who outscored the Hawks 10-2 over the final 4:16 of the half, drilled three more treys to climb within 35-32 on Nichols’ fourth trifecta with 52 ticks showing, which held at the break.
SF, which climbed within 39-38 with 15:29 showing, tied the game at 47-47 on Ben Mockford’s three with 10:39 showing, and claimed a 51-50 lead with 8:51 left on P.J. Santavenere’s two free throws.
Nicholas netted a team-best 20 points, with five rebounds for the Terriers (10-15, 6-8 NEC), while Cannon added 10 points and seven boards, as St. Francis hit 36.1% (22-61) from the field and 11-of-20 from the line (55.0%).
Monmouth returns to action on Thursday, February 21, when the Hawks travel to Robert Morris University for a Northeast Conference contest in the Sewall Center at 7:00 p.m.
Follow Monmouth Men’s Basketball on Twitter - @MonmouthBBall