Monmouth NJ basketball pummeled by No. 18 Virginia, 89-42 – Asbury Park Press

Monmouth NJ basketball pummeled by No. 18 Virginia, 89-42 – Asbury Park Press

Growing pains were to be expected for a young Monmouth team. But that doesn’t make what happened Friday night any easier to take.
After a 27-point loss to Seton Hall to open the season, it was way worse against No. 18 Virginia, as the Hawks got hammered, 89-42, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The game played out much like it did two nights earlier, when Monmouth looked good early before getting outclassed at both ends of the court by a high-major opponent. But in this one the Hawks were unable to get much going after the opening 10 minutes, as the Cavaliers steadily increased their advantage.
“Virginia is really, really good,” Monmouth coach King Rice said.
“I try to explain to my kids, they’re a team and they’re not going to do unteam-like things. Every single kid is going to be coached super well, they’re not going to break off things, they’re going to do what they’re supposed to do every time. And if you try to shortcut it, it can get ugly.
“Tonight, I thought we were good for 10-11 minutes. Unfortunately, my subs are young and they turned up the heat and we turned it over about six, seven times, kind of like we did against Seton Hall, and they really made us pay. The cool thing is that my kids got to play at Virginia.”
It was the second of a three-game season-opening gauntlet that concludes Monday night at No. 23 Illinois. The Hawks’ home opener is Thursday when they host Norfolk State and reigning MEAC Player of the Year Joe Bryant Jr.
It was Monmouth’s first game against a nationally-ranked opponent since losing to No. 5 Kansas, 112-57, on Nov. 15, 2019.
Here are five takeaways from Monmouth’s second straight loss:
You can see how Monmouth’s inability to land an experienced player/scorer via the transfer portal during the offseason hurts, particularly against a veteran team like Virginia. When things start going south, there’s no leader on the court able to take charge.
For now, it’s a matter of getting this group experience and hope they learn from their mistakes and the game starts to slow down. But the process might go a little smoother with an older presence in the lineup.
Monmouth continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. Nine first-half turnovers led to 16 points for the Cavaliers, and by game’s end they had 35 points off 20 turnovers. This on the heels of a 23-turnover performance against Seton Hall that led to 26 points for the Pirates.
Monmouth can’t have empty possessions and it certainly can’t hand points away. While teams like Virginia make you pay, they won’t survive against CAA teams with many turnovers, either.
The Virginia defense absolutely smothered Monmouth over the final 10 minutes of the first half, going on a 23-4 run to close the half after Monmouth pulled within 19-17. Leading that charge was graduate point guard Kihei Clark, who made life tough for Myles Ruth, forcing several shot clock violations as the Hawks struggled to get into their offensive sets.
While this might be the best defense Monmouth faces all season, the fact remains that the Hawks are offensively challenged right now. For the game, they shots 39 percent from the floor, hitting 3-of-11 from 3-point range.
Monmouth was way too late getting out on Virginia shooters on the perimeter, resulting in a lot of wide open looks for the Cavaliers. And they took full advantage, hitting seven triples in the first half. It was a pair of 3-pointers that jumpstarted the first half run that saw the Cavaliers open up a 42-21 lead.
For the game, the Cavaliers shot 55.6 percent from the floor and 52 percent from beyond the arc, nailing 13 triples in all.
“They’re so big and strong, when they penetrate you have to help a little bit and then guys are making all those shots,” Rice said. “I thought we guarded them well for 10 minutes – I sub and then it goes bad quickly, and I sub them back in fast and we can’t ever get our legs back under us.”
Coming off a double-double, with 18 points and 15 rebounds in the opener, junior forward Myles Foster scored 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. But he ended up in foul trouble and never scored again after hitting his first five shots.
It highlighted how much Monmouth will struggle at both ends without Foster on the court.
A 27-point loss to a high-major in the season-opener isn’t the end of the world, with a young Monmouth team flashing just enough positives and showing its scrappiness at the Prudential Center Wednesday night.
But there were also a few alarm bells that went off in a 79-52 drubbing at the hands of Seton Hall.
Now the Hawks go from the frying pan into the fire with tonight’s game against No. 18 Virginia, a 9 p.m. tipoff (ACC Network; Yes Network) in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“You feel bad because we’re so young, but this is what college basketball is,” Monmouth coach King Rice said.
“It’s going to get a lot tougher before it gets easier.”
It’s the next leg of a brutal season-opening stretch that includes Monday’s trip to face No. 23 Illinois, before Thursday’s home opener against Norfolk State, an NCAA Tournament team last season.
With what happened Wednesday as a road map, here are five keys for the Hawks against the Cavaliers, who opened the season Monday with a 73-61 win over North Carolina Central. And be sure to check back right here later tonight for complete coverage of the Monmouth-Virginia game:
Considering that shooting was the most pressing question surrounding this team, the performance did little to quell those concerns.
Inexperience and the grand stage likely had something to do with Monmouth shooting 29.8 percent from the floor (17-of-57), knocked down just 2-of-20 from 3-point range while missing their first 14 shots from beyond the arc. It would take a lot of pressure off if a player or two can step up and knock down some shots against the Cavaliers.
“We were getting open looks. We just couldn’t make them,” Rice said.
Sophomore guard Tahron Allen finished with 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting, and looked good driving to the basket.
It’s not a stretch to say that as Myles Ruth goes, so goes Monmouth. And it didn’t go well in the opener, with Ruth, the Hawks only experienced point guard, fouling out, scoring four points and turning it over three times in just 21 minutes. That meant 19 minutes for walk-on point guard Jakari Spence, who finished with five assists, five rebounds and just one turnover, more than holding his own against Big East guards.
For the Hawks to grow, Ruth has to play 30-plus productive minutes every single night. Now the Hawks go against a guard-driven Virginia team picked to finish third in the ACC.
“We have to keep Myles Ruth out of foul trouble because that changes everything for us right now when he has to sit out,” Rice said.
You had to like what you saw from 6-10 junior center Klem Vuga against the Seton Hall frontcourt. He battled Tyrese Samuel and K.C. Ndefo throughout, finishing with six points and seven rebounds.
With five points and four rebounds in the first 15 minutes of his college career, 7-1 freshman Amaan Sandhu showed he will be useful right away. In all, Monmouth held its own on the glass throughout, with Seton Hall holding a slim 46-42 edge in rebounding.
It doesn’t get any easier against a Cavaliers’ front line that includes 6-11 Kadin Shedrick, who had 10 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes Monday.
Myles Foster was a beast against Seton Hall. When he wasn’t making shots early on inside, he just kept battling, and by game’s end he had 18 points and 15 rebounds, both career highs. It was a breakthrough game for the 6-7 junior forward, as he looks to back it up with another double-double, this time on the road against an ACC opponent.
“I’m in a new position this year where I have to lead the younger guys,” Foster said, “so just try to lead by example, go hard to the boards, talking on defense, getting stops and hope I can lead the way.”
What Monmouth did was battle. After going down 36-17 at the half, they came out and played better over the final 20 minutes. Now they’re have to keep doing it against Virginia and Illinois on the road in rapid succession, which won’t be easy.
“I just wanted them to continue to fight,” Rice said. “You’re coming in, it’s (Holloway’s) first game, Big East, all that stuff. Everybody’s riled up, ready to get you, so I just told them as long as we compete and we keep our cool – we’re not going to start doing cheap stuff. We’re going to play basketball, and if somebody beats you, they beat you. You shake their hand and you walk out.”


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