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Seniors Gary Cox, Jesse Steele and Ed Waite played their final games for the Hawks on Saturday night
Courtesy: MU Photo by Jim Reme

SEASON COMES TO CLOSE WITH 67-57 LOSS TO WAGNER

Courtesy: Monmouth Sports Information
         
Release: March 02, 2013
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WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Despite Ed Waite’s (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest) sixth career double-double and Jalen Palm’s (Louisville, Kent./Butler Traditional)) career-high, the Monmouth University men’s basketball team fell to Wagner 67-57 in the Hawks final Northeast Conference game in program history on Saturday night.

Monmouth, which will join the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in July, 2013, will end its tenure in the NEC as the fourth-winningest program in league history with 261 regular season wins.

Waite posted a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds in his final collegiate game, the 124th of his career, tying him for third place all-time at Monmouth, while Palm connected on 4-for-4 from the floor for 12 points in six minutes of play.

On Senior Night, Waite was joined by classmate Jesse Steele (Milford, N.J./Oak Hill Academy) in double-figures as the guard added 11 points, five steals and three assists in his final game in the Blue and White, while Gary Cox (Houston, Texas/Nimitz) added four points and four rebounds in his first career start.

“I owe all three of our seniors a lot because I am not the easiest guy to deal with all the time and they continued to try and get better every single day,” stated head coach King Rice. “I feel like I let them down this year because I did not help them enough. They are great young men. Monmouth University should be proud of all three of them and I look for bright things from them in the future.”

Rice added, “This was a tough one tonight. Our kids played extremely hard, but Wagner controlled the tempo too much and Kenny Ortiz does not let them lose when he can help it. Bashir [Mason, Wagner’s head coach] has done a really good job because it is hard taking over a team that won as much they did last year, especially when you are an assistant on that team. He’s really done a good job to have them finish in second.”

Steele opened with Monmouth’s first five points, as the Hawks grabbed a 5-1 lead at 17:50 on Steele’s three-pointer, and MU held a 9-5 advantage following Dion Nesmith’s (Union, N.J./Union) tip-in at 14:42. Wagner answered with a 9-0 run over 4:14 of play to haul in a 14-9 lead with 9:08 on the clock.

A Marcus Ware (Vineland, N.J./Vineland) three-point play halted the Seahawk streak, making the score 14-12 with 8:20 left, before Stephen Spinella’s (Colts Neck, N.J./Apex Academy) three-pointer allowed the Hawks to climb within 18-17 at 6:18. Palm then scored seven of Monmouth’s next eight points as part of an 8-4 spurt to give Monmouth a 25-22 edge with 3:18 showing.

The lead, which changed hands nine times in the final 5:06 of the half, went to Wagner for good following a pair of Jonathon Williams’ free throws with 2:13 left, which gave the Seahawks a 28-27 advantage. Wagner, which outscored the Hawks 9-1 over the final 2:13, grabbed a 35-28 lead at the intermission on a Kenneth Ortiz three-pointer from the corner as time expired.

Tyrone O'Garro (Newark, N.J./Saint Peter’s Prep) threw down a dunk off a feed from Steele to open the second half and pull the Hawks within 35-30 at 18:46, and Christian White’s (Rochester, N.Y./Aquinas Institute) short jumper made the score 42-37 with 12:38 on the clock, before Wagner built its lead to 52-40 with 5:26 left.

Nesmith drained a trifecta in front of the MU bench to pull the Hawks within 52-43, while Waite’s free throw trimmed the deficit to 52-44 with 4:46 remaining.

Following six straight points from Waite, the Hawks climbed within 56-50 with 2:22 to play, but a Williams’ three-point play stopped Monmouth’s run, while the Seahawks went 6-for-6 from the foul line in the final 1:08 to claim the 67-57 victory.

Williams led all scorers with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Ortiz and Marcus Burton added 15 and 14 points, respectively for the Seahawks, who clinched the No. 2 seed in the upcoming tournament at 12-6 in the NEC.

Monmouth, which ends its season at 10-21 overall and 5-13 in the NEC, connected on 15-of-20 from the line.

Waite finishes his career with 1,045 points to rank 17th all-time in Monmouth's Division I history in scoring, while he compiled 658 career rebounds to finish fifth overall, 21 rebounds behind No. 4 Alex Blackwell.

Steele, who posted 970 career points, 939 of which came in a Monmouth uniform over the last two and half seasons, finished his career ranked 10th all-time at MU with 286 assists and ninth all-time with 156 made three-pointers.

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