Monmouth basketball falters in second half, falls to No. 18 … – Asbury Park Press
WEST LONG BRANCH – It had the makings of one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, as Monmouth, with just one win its first 18 games, built a nine-point first-half lead, and went into the locker room with a 31-28 advantage over 19-1 College of Charleston.
But in the end, all the Hawks had was another fleeting example of what they’re capable of.
As the final 20 minutes wore on at OceanFirst Bank Center, Charleston, ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25 and the Colonial Athletic Association leader, began to take charge, thanks in part to three quick Monmouth turnovers to start the second half, escaping with a 69-55 victory.
“I’m happy that my kids battled,” Monmouth coach King Rice said. “We’re getting better. We’ve got to keep working, keep working, and we’ll finish stronger than we started.
“We tried to crack them. We tried to do all kinds of stuff and they just kept finding way to give us problems.”
Charleston guard Reyne Smith led all scorers with 21 points, connecting on seven three-pointers, while guard Ryan Larson added 14 points and guard Dalton Bolon chipped in with 13.
Monmouth got a big game from freshman guard Andrew Ball, who led the way with 16 points. Junor forwards Myles Foster and Klemen Vuga each just missed a double-double, with Foster finishing with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Vuga had eight points and eight rebounds.
“The first half they shot 28 percent. We can guard. We are a physical club,” Rice said. “But what happens is we’ll turn it over to you 20 times and you’ve got 18 points off it and now your kids are comfortable and we can’t guard anybody.
“When they had to see our defense just like we had to see theirs, well it was a really good college basketball game. They understand that, not turning the ball over.”
Monmouth returns to the court Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. tipoff against Hampton.
Here are some takeaways from the game:
Rice had nothing but praise for Charleston, which could be in the top-15 nationally by Monday. They came in with an NET ranking of 43.
“College of Charleston is a high-level basketball team,” he said. “The ranking and all that stuff is incredible. We all know how hard it is to get ranked. But then to be a mid-major club and do what they have done, and they keep moving up in the poll. To be a mid-major and be in the top 20, that means everybody has bought in.”
Ball, a Medford native who starred at Shawnee High School, hit on 7-of-14 shots from the floor. His 16 points was a career-high, having scored 13 on two occasions.
“Super impressed with Andrew, but he puts too much pressure on himself,” Rice said. “He’s one of our best offensive guys, if not our best. He can guard. He doesn’t think that yet but he really can because he is athletic and he’s long. But he is just putting a lot of pressure on himself.”
Said Ball: “Coach Rice and I had a nice talk about that. I just tried to have fun with it tonight.”
Foster and Vuga battled inside all game, with Foster eventually fouling out and Vuga finishing with four fouls. But not before they combined for 23 points and 16 rebounds.
“Those guys, it’s like they were in competition for too long, because they play the same spots,” Rice said. “Klem is a little bigger (6-9), but their skillset is similar. It’s like they were trying to one-up each other for three years. I’m like ‘guys, your skillsets fit together. Make it work.”
Redshirt junior forward Jarvis Vaughan made his first appearance of the season, after the 6-9 forward suffered a leg injury in the preseason. The hope had been that Vaughan, who has battled injuries throughout his career, could be a leader on the court this season, while giving Monmouth an athletic presence in the paint and on the perimeter.
Vaughan ended up playing 11 minutes – the training staff limited him to five minutes a half – and his time is expected to slowly increase. He finished with two points and two rebounds.
“Jarvis practiced all week, even some last week,” Rice said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re doing right with Jarvis. It’s important he stay’s healthy.”
It’s a rarity when a mid-major program hosts a nationally-ranked team in its building. But that’s life in the Colonial Athletic Association these days.
When No. 18 Charleston, with a gaudy 18-1 record and NET rank of 43, visits OceanFirst Bank Center Thursday night (7 p.m.; FloSports), it will be the latest, most daunting challenge for Monmouth in its new league.
And given Monmouth’s struggles this season, having lost nine straight to fall to 1-17, and ranked 358 in the NET, it looms as one of the biggest college basketball mismatches in recent memory.
But it’s also the latest opportunity for Jersey Shore fans to see a top-level team in their own backyard.
Prior to this showdown, what are the best teams that have ever come to the area to face Monmouth?
Here’s our list of the 10 best:
10. Rice, Dec. 28, 1991 – Having a Southwest Conference team come to what was then called Alumni Memorial Gym was a big deal. And it was an even bigger deal when Monmouth beat them, 60-59, with the Owls eventually going 20-11. Alex Blackwell’s three-point play with 1:01 left was the difference.
9. Seton Hall, Nov. 15, 2009 – In the second game ever played at OFBC, the Pirates, coached by Bobby Gonzalez, came in and beat the Hawks, 87-72, as Jeremy Hazell lit them up for 26 points. The Pirates went 19-13 that season.
8. Central Connecticut, Feb. 9, 2002 – The zenith of former UConn assistant Howie Dickenman’s time at CCSU, with Ricardo Scott and Corsley Edwards helping the Blue Devils overcome a 20-point deficit to win, 63-62 at Boylan Gym. They went 27-5, including 19-1 in the NEC, and lost to Pitt in the NCAAs.
7. Rider, Dec. 15, 2007 – The Broncs, featuring future NBA player Jason Thompson, were in the midst of a 23-11 season when they beat the Hawks, 76-55. They would end up losing to a Fran McCaffrey-coached Siena team in the MAAC final, with Siena winning an NCAA Tournament game as a 13-seed.
6. Iona, Feb 19, 2016 – The largest crowd ever at OFBC showed up for the rematch after a fight erupted following Monmouth’s win at Iona. And while Monmouth went 27-7 that season, with five high major wins, the Gaels were really good, beating the Hawks 93-67, before doing it again in the MAAC final.
5. Mississippi, March 14, 2017 – Ole Miss came in for an NIT opening round game, with the Hawks still reeling from a semifinal loss to Siena in the MAAC Tournament, and promptly ended the Justin Robinson era with a 91-83 win. The Vols, out of the SEC, went on to beat Syracuse in the second round, finishing 22-14.
4. Princeton, Dec. 14, 1996 – Coach Bill Carmody’s Tigers, led by current Princeton coach Mitch Henderson and current Cornell coach Brian Earl, who scored the game-winning points with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left, beat Monmouth 48-46. The Tigers went 24-4, winning the Ivy League title before falling to Cal in the first round.
3. George Washington, March 21, 2016 – After winning the MAAC regular season and losing to Iona in the MAAC finals, the Hawks had to face a fifth-year senior laden Colonials’ lineup in a second round NIT game, falling 87-71 to a 28-win team that would go on to win the NIT.
2. Villanova, Dec. 22, 2010 – Ranked No. 8 in the country at the time, the Wildcats emerged with a 76-36 win, Monmouth’s biggest home loss ever. Villanova would go on to win 21 games, including a first-round NCAA Tournament game that season.
1. Gonzaga, Dec. 29, 2001 – The 22nd-ranked Zags improved to 11-2 with a 79-54 win in front of an overflow crowd at Boylan Gym. Gonzaga, which got 20 points from Dan Dickau, went 29-4, finishing sixth in the final AP Top 25 for third-year head coach Mark Few.
Check back later Thursday night for coverage of the Monmouth-Charleston game.