By Kevin Sweeney
Monmouth used dominant defense to knock off Rider 59-48 in a quarter-final matchup at the Times Union Center on Friday night. Micah Seaborn led the way with 14 points for the Hawks, who will play the winner of Fairfield vs Saint Peter’s on Sunday afternoon.
It was a jittery start for the Hawks, as they struggled to create anything offensively in the first four minutes of play. They trailed 6-2 at the first media timeout of the game. From there, the Hawks locked in defensively, allowing just 2 field goals in the final 16 minutes of the first half. Monmouth’s defensive effort was keyed by their superior athleticism compared to Rider. Rider’s guards were unable to penetrate, and center Khalil Thomas faced double teams for much of the half. As a result, the Hawks were able to force turnovers and earn easy buckets as a result. In the final 16 minutes of the half, the Hawks outscored Rider 30-10 en route to a 32-16 halftime lead.
The beginning of the second half seemed like more of the same for Rider, conceding 12 out of the first 19 points of the 2nd half. However, Rider seemed to have one run left in them. Sparked by two 3’s from forward Xavier Lundy, the Broncs went on an extended 16-1 run to cut the deficit to 6 with under 8 minutes to go. But Monmouth responded with a 7-0 spurt to distance themselves with 5 minutes to play.
Turnovers plagued the Broncs all night long, as they turned the ball over a season-high 21 times in the contest. There were times when Monmouth guards literally ripped the ball out of the hands on Rider guards. These turnovers led to a season-low in scoring for the Broncs.
Rider concludes their season with a 13-20 record. Monmouth moves to 26-8 on the season, with their next game on Sunday at 4:30pm.