Monmouth (NJ) holds off Rutgers 73-67
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) In a season of firsts, Monmouth picked up two more on Sunday.
The Hawks defeated Rutgers 73-67 for the first win in program history over a Big Ten team and it was their first win over the Scarlet Knights after losing the first nine meetings.
Monmouth (8-3) is 4-1 against Power 5 Conference teams, having also beaten opponents from the Pac 12 (UCLA, USC) and ACC (Notre Dame). The Hawks were coming off a win at Georgetown, their first over a Big East team.
''We felt we had a good team,'' Monmouth coach King Rice said. ''But you can never expect something to happen like this, truly. By the time each game gets here I have myself one hundred percent believing if we do certain things we can win the game, but to have this many in one year. . . I'm just glad I have these kids with me. We've been through a lot.''
Justin Robinson, who led the Hawks with 14 points, enjoyed beating an in-state rival as much as any of this year's landmark victories.
''This one feels a little more special to me just because of what happened to us last year,'' said Robinson of a 59-58 setback. ''We lost on a buzzer beater last year. I was hoping if it came down the wire this year we could have won the game and that was our attitude coming into the game.''
Monmouth led 37-31 at halftime and then opened three different 13-point advantages, the last at 61-48. Rutgers (4-7) used a 17-4 run to tie it at 65-65 and missed taking the lead when Mike Williams missed the second of two foul shots with 2:17 left.
After Deon Jones and Bishop Daniels traded baskets, Chris Brady's put-back gave Monmouth the lead for good at 69-67 with 1:02 remaining.
Williams then missed an open 3-pointer from the right wing, and Monmouth made four of six free throws in the final 27 seconds to seal it.
''Throughout this whole season we're just growing each and every game,'' said Jones, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. ''I don't know if a couple years ago we would have held it together as we did today, but that's just showing the growth that we've gone through this whole year.''
Collin Stewart had 11 points and Brady added nine points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks.
Corey Sanders had 16 points and four assists for the Scarlet Knights, who have lost six of seven. Williams had 15 points and Daniels added 12, while DJ Foreman had 11 rebounds and Greg Lewis 10.
Rice praised Rutgers' play, as did the Knights own coach.
''I told them `I think your effort and your harmony was at an all-time season high, you gave great effort, you shared the ball, you tried to stay organized, especially in the second half.''' said Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan, who has three frontcourt players out injured. ''We've made a lot of adjustments since we don't have three bigs who are very important to us.''
The Hawks entered as the nation's leading free throw team at 83 percent, but shot just 11-for-20 (55 percent) from the line. Rutgers stayed in it by making 22 of 30 foul shots (73.3 percent)
Monmouth: The Hawks have won four straight. Monmouth is 1-17 against the Big Ten.
Rutgers: The Knights played their first game without redshirt freshman center Ibrahima Diallo, who is out indefinitely after suffering a fractured right foot in Friday's practice. Diallo is averaging 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds.
STANDS VS BENCH
In response to Monmouth's animated bench, which is getting national acclaim for routines, the Rutgers student section hung a banner stating ''Our bleacher (greater than) your bench.''
Monmouth is at Cornell Wednesday.
Rutgers hosts Fairleigh Dickinson Wednesday.