Coming into Sunday afternoon’s contest at the Gallagher Center, the Monmouth Hawks were one of the nation’s top mid-major programs. Behind their run in the AdvoCare Invitational and their season-opening win over UCLA, the Hawks were slowly becoming America’s favourite mid-major program. After a loss to Canisius in their MAAC opener on Friday night, Monmouth was looking for a bounce-back performance on Sunday.
Their opponent on Sunday was coming off a win on their home floor in their MAAC opener Friday night. The Niagara Purple Eagles knocked off the Quinnipiac Bobcats, and looked rather impressive in doing so. Against a top-tier squad like the Hawks, the hometown Purple Eagles were looking to come away with another statement win in conference play.
If you were looking for a game that was filled with offense, then this contest was not for you. Both teams shot below 40% from the field in the game, and below 20% from three point range.
But, somebody had to come away with the win. The Monmouth Hawks did enough things right to come away with the 56-42 road victory over the Purple Eagles, notching their first MAAC win of 2015-16.
Monmouth would take the lead from the outset, and never let the Purple Eagles have a taste of being in front the entire contest. Niagara was held without a point for over three minutes to open the game, and that was a sign of things to come.
Justin Robinson got things started with a layup for the Hawks, kicking off their 8-0 run to open the game, and Monmouth was off.
Niagara would keep the game within striking distance as the first half wore on, cutting the deficit to single digits on several occasions. But, the Purple Eagles couldn’t find their shooting stroke from anywhere on the floor, and the energy was taken out of the Gallagher Arena by half-time.
Monmouth led Niagara by a score of 27-15 at the half.
The second half was more of the same for both teams, as both the Hawks and Purple Eagles struggled to find their shooting stroke. Emile Blackman would score 7 points in a span of under four minutes to keep the Purple Eagles close to the Hawks, but it was all for not shortly thereafter.
Deon Jones rattled off 7 straight points of his own for the visitors, erasing the work that Blackman did for the Purple Eagles, and the Hawks had it in cruise control from then on out. Over the last 10 minutes of the game, the Purple Eagles were never able to pull within single digits, and the contest was all but done.
At the final buzzer, the Monmouth Hawks had notched their first conference win of the season, a 56-42 decision over the Niagara Purple Eagles.
Even their 56 points were a season-low, the Monmouth Hawks have to like what they saw in the game from their team. Leading scorer Justin Robinson was held to just 8 points on 4-of-8 shooting, but others stepped up to make up for his off-day.
Freshman sensation Micah Seaborn scored a team-high 13 points to go along with 4 rebounds in the victory, while Deon Jones added 13 points and 6 rebounds of his own.
As a team, the Hawks shot 39.6% (19-of-48) from the floor, and a dismal 3-of-16 (18.8%) from three-point range.
As for the Purple Eagles, it was Emile Blackman who led the way on offense, scoring a game-high 14 points in a losing effort. Matt Scott added in 8 points and 7 rebounds, but also committed 9 of Niagara’s 20 turnovers in the contest.
The trio of Marvin Prochet (1 point), Justin Satchell (2 points), and Cameron Fowler 3 points) were held to a combined 2-of-14 shooting from the field, and 1-of-6 from long distance.
One positive for the Purple Eagles in the game was the play of freshman forward Dominic Robb. In 15 minutes of action off the bench, Robb recorded 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block. His block turned into a transition play for Niagara, resulting in 2 points for his team. He brought energy off the bench, and looked rather impressive in his limited court time.
After a brief hiccup on Friday, the Monmouth Hawks (5-3, 1-1) seem to be back on track, There are some things to fix in practice this week, but expect the Hawks to be ready for their next contest. On Sunday afternoon, the Hawks will welcome the Wagner Seahawks to town.
The Niagara Purple Eagles (3-6, 1-1) let a glorious opportunity slip through their grasp on Sunday as they were unable to muster up any consistent pressure on the offensive end of the floor. They will look to bounce back with a strong performance on Wednesday night when they travel to take on the St. John’s Red Storm.