The Monmouth Hawks have been the talk of the town this season in the NCAA, with their bench celebrations and their on-court performances. They have knocked off five power programs, and look to be a legitimate threat to the Iona Gaels in the MAAC race in 2015-16.
Their opponent on Monday afternoon has also put together a strong start to their season, but haven’t done it in a flashy way. The Army West Point Black Knights with some impressive performances under their belts, even though they haven’t knocked off a power conference opponent. Despite the lack of a marquee win, the Black Knights were playing strong basketball and had the opportunity to score their biggest win of the season on Monday.
It was a back-and-forth affair inside Christl Arena in West Point, NY, but the Army West Point Black Knights would prevail with a 91-84 victory over the Monmouth Hawks when all was said and done.
The Hawks wasted little time getting on the board, as Chris Brady scored the first two points on a layup just 13 seconds into the game. Larry Toomey would quickly respond for the Black Knights on a second-chance opportunity to knot things up at 2-all less than a minute into the contest.
Brady and Diago Quinn carried the Hawks over the first 8-plus minutes of the game on offense, combining for 15 of the team’s first 24 points. Army would keep pace with the Hawks, getting contributions from the likes of Kyle Wilson and Tanner Plomb, among others, staying within 2 points of the lead.
As the first half wore on, the teams would go shot-for-shot as they tried to gain some separation from one another. Neither team was able to gain a lead of more than 2 points until Army stretched their lead to 7 on a pair of free throws of Wilson at the 1:49 mark.
Monmouth reeled off a quick 5-0 run, capitalizing on a Dylan Cox turnover, to cut the deficit to 2, at 42-40. Army would use timely free throw shooting, and a buzzer-beating three pointer by Plomb, to push their lead to 50-44 at half-time.
To open the second half. the Hawks had their sights set on eliminating the 6-point lead of the Black Knights. While they chipped away, guard Justin Robinson put the team on his back and eliminated the Black Knights’ lead on his own. Robinson scored 10 straight points for the Hawks, and Micah Seaborn connected on a pair of free throws at the 16:03 mark to give them a 58-56 lead.
Following the Seaborn free throws, Army went on a 10-0 run of their own, regaining an 8-point lead and reclaiming the momentum they had from the first half. From there, the Black Knights held the lead the rest of the game, never allowing the Hawks to get closer than 3 points down the stretch.
Josh James would make a layup with 1:11 left in the game to bring the score to 87-84, but that was as close as they would get. Plomb would connect on a jumper and a pair of free throws, and Monmouth missed several opportunities on offense to put the game to rest.
The Army West Point Black Knights knocked off the Monmouth Hawks, coming away with a 91-84 victory.
For the Hawks, a balanced scoring attack that saw four different players reach double figures wasn’t enough to lead the team to victory. Justin Robinson scored a team-high 23 points to go along with 4 assists in the loss. He shot 9-of-20 from the floor, but was a dismal 1-of-7 from three point range.
Collin Stewart added 12 points off the bench, while Chris Brady added 10 points and 4 rebounds on the afternoon.
As for the Black Knights, they relied heavily on their stars to lead them to victory. Tanner Plomb, who was the Preseason Player of the Year in the Patriot League for College Court Report, scored a game-high 27 points on 9-of-20 shooting. He added 4 rebounds in the game, and connected on 4 three-pointers on the afternoon.
Kyle Wilson added 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. Big man Kevin Ferguson put together quite the performance in the paint on the day, narrowly missing out on a double-double, recording 9 points and 13 rebounds to go along with 3 blocks.
Despite the loss, the Monmouth Hawks (9-4) will be a team to watch as conference play opens up in the new year. The loss to the Black Knights put an end to their five game winning streak. With a 1-1 record in MAAC play to their name already, they will look to get back on track with they open the new year with a conference showdown against the Canisius Golden Griffins on January 4th. Back in December, Canisius took down Monmouth, 96-86, so you can bet the Hawks will have revenge on their mind.
With the win, the Army West Point Black Knights (9-3) have won six of their last seven contests. They quickly put a loss to the Marist Red Foxes behind them, and scored arguably their best win of the season so far. They close out 2015 with a road game against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks on December 30th to open conference play.