NEWARK, N.J. – Despite a career-high 24 points from junior Deon Jones (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School/Towson), the Monmouth University men’s basketball team fell at Seton Hall 82-66 at Prudential Center on Monday night. With the loss, Monmouth falls to 1-2 on the year, while the Pirates improve to 3-1, including 3-0 at home.
Jones, who has scored 63 points in his first three games in the Blue & White, hit for a career-best 24 points, behind three three-pointers, with seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks, to lead the Hawks. Junior Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) added 11 points, his third-straight double-digit outing to open the season, for Monmouth, which hit 40.4% (21-52) from the field and 54.8% (17-31) from the free throw line.
“I take my hat off to Seton Hall, because Kevin [Willard] had his guys ready tonight,” said head coach King Rice. “I am proud of my kids for continuing to fight. I thought we had about six minutes in the second half that really hurt us, but overall, I think our kids are improving. We are going to continue to work until we figure out ways to win these games.”
After Justin Robinson’s (Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston) lay-up pulled the Hawks within 7-5 at 16:34, the Pirates went on a 15-5 run over a span of 4:15 to grab a 22-10 advantage on Hakeem Harris’ three-pointer with 12:02 left. Monmouth climbed within 24-17 at 7:35 following a pair of Tyrone O’Garro (Newark, N.J./Saint Peter’s Prep) free throws and a Max DiLeo (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) three, and trailed 28-21 on Jones’ second trey of the half with 5:14 showing.
Over the final five minutes of the stanza, Seton Hall, which went 13-of-14 from the free throw line in the half, rattled off a 10-4 spurt, seven of which came from Patrik Auda, to take a 38-25 lead at the break.
SHU built its lead to 53-31, following consecutive post-up baskets from Eugene Teague, 5:05 into the second half.
Trailing 60-34 with 11:54 left, Monmouth went on an 11-3 run, highlighted by three-pointers from DiLeo and Nicholas, to pull within 63-45 at 10:14, and rallied to within 66-53 with 7:08 showing on a Nicholas drive.
Robinson’s trifecta at the 4:00-minute mark made the score 74-58, while drives from Josh James (White Plains, N.Y./Archbishop Stepanic) and DiLeo in the final minute accounted for the final 82-66 tally.
SHU was paced by Auda’s career-high 27 points and 10 rebounds, as the forward hit 8-of-9 from the field and 9-for-9 from the line. Guard Sterling Gibbs added 16 points and four assists and Stephane Manga chipped in 14 for the Pirates, who connected on 53.1% (26-49) from the floor and 82.1% (23-28) from the stripe.
Both teams committed 14 turnovers, but Seton Hall generated 21 points off MU's miscues, while the Hawks netted six points. The Pirates outscored the Hawks 38-22 in the paint.
Monmouth returns to action on Friday night, when the Hawks travel to Carnesecca Arena to face St. John’s at 9:00 p.m., as part of the Barclays Center Classic, presented by Continental Tire.
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