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Monmouth Begins Journey To MSG With 90-80 Over Bucknell In 1st Round Of NIT

Justin Robinson (Photo by Jeff Auger - Double G Media)

Justin Robinson (Photo by Jeff Auger – Double G Media)


After a disappointing Selection Sunday where they were royally snubbed from the NCAA Tournament, the Monmouth Hawks moved into the postseason part of their year on Wednesday night. While the stench of the NCAA non-selection still lingered in West Long Branch, King Rice and his team moved into the National Invitation Tournament looking to make a statement and prove that they are as good as names like Jay Bilas and others believe they are.

The journey to Madison Square Garden began at home as the Hawks began their NIT journey against Bucknell. While the tournament was still a conversation, the Hawks let their play do the talking after a 90-80 win at home in the first round of the NIT. It was Monmouth’s first postseason win since 2006 when they defeated Hampton in the play-in game in the NCAA Tournament.

Justin Robinson led the Hawks with 23 points while Collin Stewart scored 16 in the win, the Hawks first-ever win in the NIT tournament.

The key to the game was Monmouth (28-7) winning the rebound battle, finishing with a +5 margin (41-36) and shooting 49 percent from the field, including 40 percent from three. Defensively was a bit of a struggle for the Hawks as they gave up 80 points, nine above their season average that they allow. But even with that, the offense was the story as they finished with three players in double-digits and ten players scored at least a point in their win.

“Our shots started falling down, we got a little bit of a cushion and we were able to hold on and win,” said head coach King Rice.

Bucknell (17-14) was the regular season champion of the Patriot League but was upset by eventual league tournament champion Holy Cross in the Patriot League quarterfinals. The Bison kept the game within striking distance, closing the Monmouth lead to six at 36-30 at halftime. While having five players scoring in double figures, Bucknell fell behind for good after a Stewart long distance shot with 11:05 remaining in the game stretched the Monmouth lead out to seven points. That was when the floodgates opened for Monmouth as a 9-0 Hawk run put the game out of reach.

Bucknell was led in scoring by Chris Haas who scored 18 points but the Bison struggled after being outscored 38-18 in bench points and 42-28 in points in the paint.

Monmouth, the number one seed in their region, moves on to play #4 George Washington at the MAC on Monday night with game time set for 7 p.m.  George Washington advanced Wednesday night after their opening round 82-80 win over Hofstra.

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Kahlil Thomas

Kahlil is the College Sports Editor for as well as a columnist, hosting the Bump 'N Run column once per week. He also co-hosts a weekly basketball podcast, The Box Out, every Thursday evening with fellow writer Jason Cordner.
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