MOON TOWNSHIP, PA.
– Monmouth had three players finish in double-figures, but the Hawks fell to a late Colonial rally in a 77-65 defeat at league-leading Robert Morris on Saturday night in Northeast Conference action in the Sewall Center.
Leading by a pair, 62-60 with 5:27 remaining, the Colonials put together a 12-3 run over the next four minutes, fueled by Karvel Anderson’s back-to-back three-pointers, to coral a decisive 74-63 edge with 29.4 seconds left.
Senior Jesse Steele
(Milford, N.J./Oak Hill Academy) led the Hawks with 16 points, while Dion Nesmith
(Union, N.J./Union) added 14 points and Stephen Spinella
(Colts Neck, N.J./Apex Academy) chipped in 12. The trio went a combined 14-for 16 from the free throw line.
Monmouth, which hit 52.0% from the field in the first half, connected on 20-41 (48.8%) for the game, while hitting 20-of-23 from the free throw line. Robert Morris, which hit nine first-half three-pointers, countered with a season-high tying 13 treys, and hit 14-of-16 from the stripe.
“Andy [Toole] does and great job and Robert Morris is a tough team to play. You have to give them a lot of credit,” stated head coach King Rice
. “We fought as hard as we have in a long time tonight, and put 40 minutes together. We were shooting 52.0% at the half, 50.0% from three and 100% from the line and we were still down.”
Robert Morris built an early 8-4 advantage before Nesmith’s three-pointer pulled the Hawks within 8-7 at16:30. Behind a pair of Lucky Jones’ three-pointers, the Colonials grabbed a 17-12 lead at 14:20, while RMU’s 10-2 run over 3:46 of action put the Colonials in front 24-14 with 10:44 left.
The Hawks responded with a 6-0 spurt in a 1:39 stretch, behind baskets from Nesmith, Ed Waite
(Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest) and Khalil Brown
’s (South Orange, N.J./Westwind Academy) tip-in, to climb within 24-20 with 7:55 showing. RMU reclaimed a 10-point cushion on David Appolon’s three-pointer and led 39-30 following a pair of Russell Johnson scores with 2:00 left.
Monmouth climbed within 39-34 at the break, as Spinella’s drive and Steele’s pull-up jumper with 51 seconds on the board, accounted for halftime score.
RMU built its lead back to nine on two occasions in the opening five minutes of the second half, before Tyrone O'Garro
(Newark, N.J./Saint Peter’s Prep) registered a three-point play to pull the Hawks within 53-52 with 10:13 left to play. Following another O’Garro drive, which made the score 55-54, RMU pushed its edge back to 62-56 at 6:55, before a pair of Steele free throws and Spinella’s drive trimmed the contest to 62-60.
Rice added, “I have not been more proud of a group of guys than I was tonight. For our effort, how hard we kept fighting and the way we stayed together. Right now it stings for us as coaches and players, but I told them to keep their heads up because we gave everything we had in our bodies tonight to try to get this win.”
The Colonials, who connected on 53.2% overall (25-47), held a 24-21 edge in rebounds and were paced by Johnson’s game-high 20 points and seven rebounds, while Jones connected on six treys for 19 points and seven boards.
Monmouth returns to action on Saturday, February 23, when the Hawks travel to Saint Francis University in Northeast Conference action in DeGol Arena at 1:00 p.m.
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