WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Monmouth University erased a 13-point second half deficit and used a 17-1 run over the final 3:21 of play to earn an 87-78 victory over Fordham University in non-conference action on Saturday afternoon in the MAC. Paced by junior Andrew Nicholas’ (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) 30 points, and junior Max DiLeo’s (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) career-best 18 points, the Hawks won their third straight and improved to 6-6 overall.
A 10-2 run by the Rams put Fordham in front 63-50 with 12:10 left to play, before the Hawks got within 63-60 on DiLeo’s three-point play, and within a pair 67-65, on junior Deon Jones’ (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School/Towson) three-point trip with 7:19 showing. Fordham pushed its lead to seven twice, and as late as 77-70 with 3:25 remaining, but the Hawks, ignited by four three-pointers, put together a 17-1 run over the final 3:21 for the win.
“I am very proud of my team,” stated head coach King Rice, whose Hawks have now posted four victories this season after trailing by double-digits. “The resolve and character they showed while we were down, and their ability to stick together and continue to fight was amazing today.”
Nicholas, who tied a career-high with six three-pointers, netted a team-high 30 points, one off his career-best, to go along with eight rebounds and two steals, while DiLeo connected on 6-of-7 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and 4-for-4 from the free throw line, for a career-high 18 points, three steals and two assists.
Jones added 13 points and six rebounds, while freshman Justin Robinson (Lake Katrine, N.Y./Kingston) totaled nine points and sophomore Tyrone O'Garro (Newark, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) notched six points and 10 rebounds.
Trailing 77-70 after Jon Severe's eighth three-pointer, Jones connected on a free throw, while treys from DiLeo, two from Nicholas and a fourth from freshman Josh James (White Plains, N.Y./Archbishop Stepinac) put the Blue & White ahead 83-78 with 50.4 remaining. A pair of free throws each from Jones and Nicholas accounted for the final score.
Fordham, which hit its first 19 free throw attempts in the game, went 1-for-4 from the line in the final 2:03 of play, as Ryan Rhoomes missed a pair with the game tied at 77-77 with 2:03 showing, before MU rattled off a 10-1 spurt over the final 1:37 of action.
A pair of three-pointers from Nicholas gave the Hawks a 13-8 lead with 14:24 showing, while DiLeo’s trey put the Blue & White in front 16-10 with 13:29 remaining.
After Travion Leonard’s tip-in pulled the Rams within 16-15 at 11:45, the Hawks went on a 10-2 run, which culminated in Robinson’s three-pointer with 8:26 left, to put Monmouth ahead 26-17. Over the next 2:23 of action, the Rams strung together a 14-0 response to take a 31-26 advantage on a Jon Severe trey.
A dunk from O’Garro and a DiLeo lay-in pulled the Hawks within 38-36 with 2:40 showing, before consecutive trifectas from Severe gave Fordham a 46-38 lead with 25 seconds left in the stanza. Nicholas, who stole the inbounds pass on a last play attempt for the Rams, drilled a corner three-pointer to bring MU within 46-41 at the break.
Rice added, “The crowd was great today. Everybody was supportive. It’s just fun, because I’m seeing big improvements with these kids and the way they stick together it’s going to be a fun, fun season.”
Severe, who went 8-for-13 from three-point range, went for a game-high and career-high 32 points, but was limited to seven second half points. Branden Frazier added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Monmouth, which connected on a season-high 12 three's of its own, hit 43.5% (30-69) from the field, and outrebounded the Rams 44-32. The Hawks, who hit 15-of-20 from the foul line, netted 18 second chance points.
Monmouth returns to action on Monday, December 30 when the Hawks host Wagner in non-conference action in the MAC, at 3:00 p.m.
@MonmouthBBall -- #FlyHawks