First-Place Rider Men’s Basketball Topped by Monmouth
On Thursday night, Monmouth University squared off against the Rider Broncs. A packed crowd of 2,110 filled the OceanFirst Bank Center, the home stadium of the Monmouth Hawks that is located in New Jersey. Coming into the game, it was obvious that it was going to be interesting. Despite a rough start to the season, Monmouth got themselves going on a tear. They have won four out of their last six games, which includes the win over Rider.
The game belonged to the Hawks from the start. Led by five quick points from Melik Martin and six from Micah Seaborn, they got an early 17-3 lead. With just 12 minutes remaining in the first half, Rider trailed by 17. Diago Quinn and Stevie Jordan both battled back to the best of their ability, and were actually able to get the lead down to single digits with several minutes left in the first half. They were quickly met with nine quick points, and at the half, Monmouth University led 50 to 32.
The latter half of the game was the same exact story. Monmouth’s lead blossomed to 23 with the help of Austin Tilghman, and they led by at least 12 points for the remainder of the game. Jordan Allen helped the Broncs battle, as he finished with 18 points on 6-11 shooting from behind the arc, which was a team high for Rider. The true star of the game was Seaborn for sure, though. The junior had some astonishing numbers, finishing with 30 points on an efficient 10-17 FG clip, 6-10 from the free throw line, and a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc.
Coach King Rice spoke highly of Seaborn with remarks such as,
“When his body is healthy, he is one of the top guys if not the top guy in this league. He was freshman of the year as a freshman, all-league as a sophomore, and we had plans for a lot of things for him this year and he’s showing you, when healthy, he can do a lot of great things on the court.”
Both teams performed extremely well offensively, but Monmouth came out on top with a 91-77 victory. As a team, they shot 55% compared to Rider’s 45% from the floor. A deciding factor seemed to be who performed better in the paint. The Hawks outscored Rider 38 to 24 in the paint, while also out-rebounding them 35-29.
Despite the loss, the Broncs are still currently in first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, tied with Canisius with a 14-3 conference record. The Hawks has seemed to pick up the pace they lacked early on in the year, moving up to 8th place – good enough for a playoff spot. That playoff spot will certainly be meaningful to the team, as the win over Rider actually tied the record for wins by a four-year class in Monmouth (which was also done on Senior Night). Beating the number one team on Senior Night was very important and gives them a huge boost. Rider will look to recover from the loss on Sunday at 2 PM, when they play the Iona Gaels. Things are certainly beginning to heat up for a tight playoff race prior to the MAAC Basketball Tournament, which will be played in Albany, New York from March 1st to the 5th.