SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – Deon Jones (Wilmington, Del./Sanford School/Towson), Josh James (White Plains, N.Y./Archbishop Stepinac) and Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York) combined for 39 of the Hawks' 60 points, but Monmouth University's first season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference came to an end with a 71-60 First Round loss to in-state rival Rider University on Thursday evening at the MassMutual Center.
Jones, who connected on 5-of-8 from the floor and 8-for-8 from the free throw line, led Monmouth with 18 points, while James added 11 points and six assists and Nicholas notched 10 points and six rebounds.
"I am proud of our kids and I really wasn't ready for the season to be over," said Monmouth head coach King Rice. "But I thought our kids fought extremely hard and I thought this was one of the better games we played on the offensive end. We just got beat by a better Rider team."
Monmouth jumped out to a 6-0 lead on baskets from Zac Tillman (Yeadon, Pa./Shipley School) and Nicholas and a pair of Tyrone O'Garro (Newark, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) free throws, but the Broncs responded with the next 10 points and a 13-2 spurt to grab a 13-8 advantage on Zedric Sadler’s three-pointer with 13:16 on the clock.
The Hawks answered with an 8-3 streak to knot the score at 16-16 on a James drive with 7:06 left, while the combination of Max DiLeo’s (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) corner three-pointer and Collin Stewart’s (Glenville, N.Y./Mekeel Christian Academy) drive pushed the Blue & White in front 21-19 at 5:24.
After consecutive baskets from James and Stewart gave Monmouth a 25-21 advantage with 4:16 left, the Broncs ended the stanza on a 12-0 run, which included a pair of three-pointers, to lead 33-25 at the break.
Ignited by Jones' slam, which turned into a three-point play, Monmouth raced out of the locker room on a 21-5 run to take a 46-38 lead with 11:19 remaining.
The Broncs responded with a 17-2 spurt over 4:11 to take a 55-48 advantage with 6:52 showing, and built their lead to 67-55 with 1:48 on the clock.
Monmouth, which scored 36 points in the paint, connected on 53.5% from the floor (23-43), and 13-for-17 from the line, but Rider went 24-31 from the stripe, while turning 21 MU turnovers into 30 points.
Daniel Stewart (12-14 FTs) scored a game-high 25 points to go along with nine rebounds for Rider.
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