Thumbnail photo is Courtesy of Monmouth Athletics
EMMITSBURG, MD. – Monmouth, which trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, climbed within a single point on three occasions in the second stanza, but succumbed to a 19-6 run by Mount St. Mary’s over a seven-minute span, to fall 71-59 in Northeast Conference action on Saturday night in Knott Arena.
Monmouth (5-10, 0-2 NEC), which got a 19-point, seven-rebound effort from sophomore Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, Pa./Eastern York), connected on 37.5% (24-64) in the game, while the Mountaineers hit 26-53 field goals (49.1%).
The Hawks also got 12 points and five rebounds from Stephen Spinella (Colts Neck, N.J./Apex Academy), eight points from Jesse Steele (Milford, N.J./Oak Hill Academy) and a career-high six assists from Dion Nesmith (Union, N.J./Union).
Nicholas drilled his third trifecta of the game to ignite an 8-0 run for the Hawks in 1:26 of action to make the tally 46-45 with 10:34 remaining, but MSM answered with a 9-4 streak to claim a 55-49 advantage with 8:29 left. Following a Nicholas free throw, which made the score 55-50, the Mountaineers increased their spurt to 16-5 to haul in a 62-50 lead with 4:30 on the clock.
The Mount pushed it run to 19-6 and claimed a 65-51 lead with 3:17 showing, and outscored Monmouth 25-14 over the final 10:30 of the contest to improve to 6-7 overall and 1-1 in the league.
"Mount is hard to prepare for because they shoot so many threes, and they can get touches inside," stated head coach King Rice. "I give them a lot of credit because they hit some crucial timed shots. We are getting better and if they keep fighting like this, we will get this thing turned around."
A corner three-pointer and lay-up from Spinella gave the Hawks an early 5-4 lead at 16:55, but the Mountaineers answered with a 10-1 spurt to lead 14-6 with 11:30 remaining, as Monmouth went 4:15 without a point. Following a Gary Cox (Houston, Texas/Nimitz) jumper in the lane, the Hawks climbed within 18-13 after Nicholas drilled a three-pointer and connected on a bank shot in the lane with 9:18 showing.
Mount St. Mary’s, which got consecutive three-pointers from Sam Prescott, opened a 21-13 advantage before Spinella’s steal and lay-up and Cox’s short baseline jumper pulled MU within 21-17 with 5:55 left.
Prescott’s third trey put the Mount in front by its largest lead of the stanza 26-17 with 4:59 remaining, but the Hawks answered with an 8-3 spurt to make the score 29-25 on Spinella’s drive at the minute-mark. However, the Mountaineers carried a 31-25 lead into the break as Kristijan Kranjina laid in a basket as time expired.
The Blue and White raced out of the locker room on a 7-2 run to get within 33-32 on Khalil Brown’s (South Orange, N.J./Westwind Academy) three-pointer from the top of the key, and trailed 35-34 at 16:30 on Ed Waite’s (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Pine Crest) lay-in, before the Mount responded with an 11-3 run to claim a 46-37 edge with 12:10 showing.
Steele drilled a three-pointer to make the score 65-54 and Spinella’s lay-up got the Hawks within 66-56 at 1:24.
"We played well enough to win, but we just have to execute better," added Rice. "I like our team. We are a group that is going to continue to work. If we are the hardest working team, we will give ourselves a chance and things will start to work for us."
Monmouth returns to action on Thursday, January 10, when the Hawks host Saint Francis in Northeast Conference action in the MAC. Tip is set for 7:00 p.m.