WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.
- Once trailing by 13 in the second half, Monmouth University rode Andrew Nicholas
' (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) career-high 31 points, 23 of which came in the second half, and Deon Jones
' (WIlmington, Del./Sanford School/Towson) career-high tying 24 points, which included the game-winner at the final buzzer, to an 81-79 victory over Mississippi Valley State in the Barclays Center Classic, presented by Continental Tire on Friday night in the MAC.
After Nicholas' fifth three-pointer of the night gave the Hawks a 77-75 lead with 1:28 left and a Jones' drive pushed the Blue & White in front 79-75 with 26 seconds left, the Delta Devils knotted the score at 79-79 behind back-to-back lay-ins from James Currington with 6.1 showing. Following a Monmouth timeout, Jones took the inbounds pass, drove the length of the court and rolled in the game-winner as time expired for the Hawks.
"They outplayed us for most of the night, they spread the floor and just drove us, but I am so proud of our kids," said head coach King Rice
. "We didn't play our best game today, but the thing that we showed is that we fight, we keep fighting and we keep going."
Nicholas, who connected on five three-pointers, scored a career-best 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, while Jones netted his third 20-point game in the Blue & White with 24 points (11-of-12 from the free throw line), with eight rebounds and three blocks. Josh James
(White Plains, N.Y./Archbishop Stepinac) added 14 points with four assists and four rebounds.
Monmouth, which outscored the Delta Devils 50-40 in the second half, hit 56.7% (17-30) from the floor and 6-of-7 three-pointers in the second half, en route to its second-half come from behind victory, the Hawks' second 13-point comeback win of the season.
MVSU built a 13-point advantage, 51-38 with 16:00 left in the game on Anthony McDonald's fifth trey, but the Hawks rattled off a 17-4 run to tie the game at 55-55 with 11:59 showing, as Nicholas drilled four threes in a 3:23 span. Monmouth grabbed its first lead on Max DiLeo
's (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) three-pointer, 60-59, with 10:43 remaining.
Following a Jones wing three-pointer and a pair of free throws from Nicholas, the Hawks trailed 12-11 with 14:14 showing, while three straight points from James allowed MU to climb within 15-14 with 10:08 left.
The Delta Devils responded with five points from McDonald to claim a 20-14 edge at 9:14, and McDonald’s third trey of the half pushed MVSU in front 25-19 with 8:10 showing. The Hawks trimmed the deficit to 27-25 on another James drive and trailed 32-29 with 4:35 remaining after two free throws each from Jones and Justin Robinson
(Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston).
MVSU answered with a 7-0 run over the next 2:25, highlighted by five points from Vacha Vaughn, to snare a 39-29 advantage with 2:10 remaining, before Robinson’s drive with eight seconds left pulled the Blue & White within 39-31 at the break.
MVSU was paced by McDonald's 26 points, behind six three-pointers, as the Delta Devils hit 45.6% (31-68) from the field and outrebounded the Hawks 40-34. D'Angelo Priar added 11 points, and Currington netted 10, while Jordan Washington added seven points, seven rebounds and six assists.
"We have eight freshmen on this team, I want them to be hyped about this win, I want them to be excited. We have felt bad enough after these last four games. I want them to feel excited," added Rice.Robinson added six points, and season-best six assists for the Hawks.
Monmouth returns to action tomorrow, Saturday, November 30 when the Hawks host North Carolina A&T in the MAC, on the final day of the Barclays Center Classic, at 7:00 p.m. Longwood and Mississippi Valley State will play prior to the Hawks' game in the MAC at 4:30 p.m.Notes:
- Andrew Nicholas
scored the most points by a Monmouth player in the MAC (31).
- Nicholas' 31 points in Monmouth's first 30-point individual outing since Travis Taylor scored 30 points against Sacred Heart on February 27, 2010.
- In both of Monmouth's wins this season, the Hawks erased a 13-point second half deficit.
- MU's seven turnovers was a season-low for the Hawks.
- Monmouth is now 2-0 all-time vs. MVSU, and now 2-0 against teams from the SWAC.
- The game had seven ties, and five lead changes.
- Deon Jones
tied his career-high with 24 points.
- Nicholas posted his sixth career game with at least four made three-pointers.@MonmouthBBall -- #FlyHawks