Rutgers' Mike Williams (5) and Myles Mack (4) head up court after a steal against Monmouth in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in West Long Branch, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Mel Evans
December 28, 2014

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. (AP) Myles Mack had hit buzzer-beaters before.

The difference is all those were in his driveway in Paterson, N.J.

''I grew up in my backyard, 3-2-1 shooting the ball. Times like this, that's what you live for growing up as a kid,'' Mack said. ''I guess those times in my backyard helped.''

Mack scored 16 points, including the buzzer-beating game-winner to lead Rutgers past Monmouth 59-58.

Justin Robinson scored 13 points, including the foul shot to give Monmouth (5-7) the lead 58-57 with 5.6 seconds left.

Robinson stepped to the free throw line after he was fouled by Mike Williams following a shot fake. Robinson missed the first free throw, which proved costly.

After a timeout called by Rutgers (8-5) coach Eddie Jordan, Mack took the ball coast-to-coast before hitting an 18-footer from the left wing.

''Once he got it back he had a head of steam that I knew he was going to get to the basket or he was going to pull up and he was going to separate himself for sure,'' Jordan said. ''When he inbounds it and he gets it right back on a dead run it's hard to stop him.''

The game-winner was only the fourth time Rutgers took the lead.

With just over two minutes left, Mack hit a 3-pointer to give Rutgers a 57-55 lead. Robinson would tie it at 57 for Monmouth with 55 seconds left.

And when it came down to the final shot, Jordan had no hesitation of who he was going to.

''That's what basketball's about,'' Jordan said. ''You put the ball in your best player's hands.''

Prior to the final two minutes, Rutgers' only lead was a 3-0 when Kadeem Jack opened the game up with a 3-pointer and at 29-27 with 1:45 left in the first half.

Bishop Daniels came off the bench to spark Rutgers, scoring 12 points to go along with five assists.

''Bishop is great off the bench,'' Mack said. ''That's what coach is going to do with him now. He brings a spark on the offensive end. He hit big shots when we needed it. He played very well.''

Monmouth was led by Deon Jones, who had 14 points.

Monmouth is 0-16 vs. high major teams under fourth-year coach King Rice. Despite the gut-wrenching loss, Rice is pleased with his team's progress.

''Three years ago we played them and we lost by 20-something points. This time they hit a game-winner. So we've gotten closer,'' Rice said. ''And we'll continue to get better.''


Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are now 9-0 against Monmouth. This is only the second time Rutgers played Monmouth away from home. The schools are separated by 37 miles.

Monmouth: The Hawks had their first home sellout at the MAC (Multipurpose Activity Center) this season and fourth in the building's history. The 4,000 seat arena opened in 2009.


Rutgers now gets set for their inaugural Big-Ten season. The Scarlet Knights were picked to finish last in the conference's preseason media poll. Rutgers was picked to finish last in the American Athletic Conference last season, but finished seventh.

''We're going to be prepared,'' Jordan said. ''We have a short turnaround. It's a noon game on Tuesday and we'll see. We were picked to be last and we proved ourselves last year. Let's see if we can prove ourselves this year.''


Rutgers opens up Big Ten play against Northwestern on Tuesday.

Monmouth (2-0) gets back into Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference play at Canisius on Friday.

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