Monmouth loses heart broken in St. John’s, 88-83
NEW YORK – If Monmouth’s winning streak were to end, it could just as easily have been with a big effort on the road against a top Big East side.
Because even though the Hawks didn’t win an eighth straight game, their 88-83 loss to St. John’s at Carnesecca Arena was a statement of the potential of this team.
It all ended heartbreakingly, with George Papas hitting three free throws with 53.1 seconds left to bring Monmouth back within 83-81 range. The Hawks were up to 14 points behind.
After the teams traded baskets, it was St. John’s Dylan Addae-Wusu who missed the second of two free throws with 14.3 seconds left as Monmouth forward Nikkei Rutty appeared to have the rebound with the Hawks led 86-83. But Posh Alexander, the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year, was instrumental and the ball eventually went out of Rutty’s bounds.
After a video review, the appeal was upheld and St. John’s took possession with a three-point lead.
Alexander then suffered a foul with eight seconds remaining, sidelining the game by sinking both free throws.
“I’m never happy to lose, but we’ve shown we can play with a Big East school in their building,” said Monmouth coach King Rice. “I thought Posh did a good job getting it, but I thought he was out of bounds when he saved it. If it’s out of bounds it’s our ball and we get a clean look. and maybe we’re in overtime now. “
Alexander and Julian Champagnie, an All-Big East first team player, totaled 37 points.
Seton Hall transfer graduate Shavar Reynolds led the way at Monmouth with 25 points, while second-year forward Myles Foster and senior center Walker Miller had 13 points each.
Monmouth (7-2) has another chance for a second major win when he moves to face struggling Pitt on Sunday. The Hawks defeated Cincinnati on Nov. 27.
A win would have established a program mark for the best start of all time, while also equaling his second longest winning streak.
“I want to give (coach) Mike Anderson and St. John’s a lot of credit,” Rice said. “We were coming here, we’re playing really well and they were so prepared. I’m sure it was one of their best games that they’ve played. They were together, they got almost every big shot, several guys. “
An inside score from Miller, followed by a 3-point Marcus McClary in transition with 2:35 left, after a steal and a feed from Papas, brought Monmouth down to 81-75. Rutty missed the lead in a one-on-one with 2:10 to go.
Addae-Wusu then hit a pair of free throws to give the Red Storm some breathing space, but Miller responded by draining a 3-pointer on the other end to reduce St. John’s lead to 83-78 with 1. : 10 on the clock, setting up the final sequence.
Monmouth just wouldn’t leave in the last 20 minutes.
Reynolds’ jumper on Champagnie with 5:04 to go pulled Monmouth within six points at 74-68, Papas countering a basket from Montez Mathis with a pair of free throws at 4:10 to reach 76-70.
Alexander, the Big East Rookie of the Year last season, scored on a tough practice and suffered a foul, sinking the free throw to extend the Red Storm’s advantage to 79-70 with 3:58 to play.
Second half rally
St. John’s opened the second half with an 8-3 streak to extend their lead to 50-39, as Monmouth struggled to find an attacking pace. The Red Storm took their biggest lead of the game at that point at 56-43 over a 3-point Champagnie with 14 minutes remaining.
Monmouth then started on his own, Papas securing his first points of the game on a trey with 13:41 remaining, before Miller scored on a dunk in transition. After a Champagnie score on the inside, Papas scored an offensive rebound of his own and suffered a foul, completing the game by three points to bring Monmouth down to 58-51 with 12:05 to go.
It was Red Storm goalie Stef Smith who kept Monmouth at arm’s length midway through the second half, scoring eight points in four minutes. But Myles Ruth’s free throws with 7:48 remaining took him down to a single number at 72-64.
Reynolds heats up quickly
Reynolds was on fire in the first half. He opened the game with back-to-back treys in the opening minutes. Then, with Monmouth down 23-15, he hit a pair of 3s in 23 seconds, before a goalie call on his drive with 7:56 to go pulled Monmouth at 25-23.
“Shavar is just such a good player,” Rice said. “He’s a great young man and a very important player. He’s an incredible leader.
“I knew Shavar would have a good night’s sleep and he was probably even better than I thought he was.”
Then Alexander took matters into his own hands, scoring seven points over the next three minutes to push the Johnnies 34-27 lead to a tip-in with 4:10 on the clock.
After Montez Mathis’s free throws gave St. John’s their biggest lead of the game at 38-29 with 2:40 remaining, Monmouth closed the half with a 7-4 run to move closer to 42. -36.
Foster, the second 6-7, struggled on the inside, scoring 12 points on the inside in the first 20 minutes, while grabbing five rebounds. Foster’s efforts were crucial, with starting center Walker Miller keeping just two points in the first half.
Game preview: Can Monmouth basketball cause a stir in St. John’s? 3 keys for Hawks vs Big East enemy
Hitting the road to take on a high-level opponent is a time that is generally categorized as “watch what you want” when it comes to mid-major programs.
But when Monmouth takes his seven-game winning streak at Carnesecca Arena Thursday night to face St. John’s (8:30 p.m.; FS1), it is with realistic expectation that anything is possible against a Big East foe.
The Hawks (7-1) have already won in Cincinnati this season and are 5-1 on the road. Their early-season performance was recognized this week when the NCAA NET rankings were released, with the Hawks at 41. St. John’s (6-2), with losses to Indiana and Kansas, is on 106.
“I’m looking forward to it because I love the challenge, but we have to be ready,” said Monmouth coach King Rice.
Defense was Monmouth’s calling card. The Hawks rank 18th nationally in field goal defense percentage, limiting opposition to 37.3 percent from floor. St. John’s shoots at 50.5% of the ground, which ranks ninth nationally.
Related: Shavar Reynolds of Monmouth returns to St. John’s in search of upheaval
The focus will be second-year guard Posh Alexander, the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, and junior swingman Julian Champagnie, an All-Big East first-team selection.
“(Alexander) is tough, he leads, he takes big punches, and when he was down they look like a different team,” Rice said. “And Julian could be the Big East Player of the Year. They’re tough kids from New York.
More from Monmouth: Hawks dominate Canisius for seventh consecutive win
Here are three keys to making Monmouth this important non-conference matchup. And check back later Thursday night for full coverage of a Carnesecca Arena analysis:
1. Manage the pressure
As important as the defensive pressure from Monmouth has been in turning the games in his favor, surviving the intense defensive pressure from the Red Storm is essential.
“This is the # 1 key,” Rice said. “It will be the most physical game we will play. You get to bump into the court with this style, and no one likes them. I say Manhattan is that type of deal, but now it’s the Big East, the bigger, stronger, faster version of it. And (St. John’s head coach) Mike Anderson has been doing this since he was a player under Nolan (Richardson in Tulsa).
Monmouth returned the ball 16 times to Canisius on Sunday and will have to do a much better job protecting the ball here.
2. Winning in painting
Monmouth has not been passed this season. And it’s not just the frontcourt 6-11 center Walker Miller (7.1 rpg.) And 6-8 forward Nikkei Rutty (7.0). Guards battled over the glass as well, with George Papas (6.5 rpg.) Coming in from a double-double to Canisius, Marcus McClary (4.6) and Reynolds (3.4) all stepping in.
And keeping the Red Storm guards out of the glass is vital. At 6-8, Champagnie averages a team record of 7.1 rebounds, while 6-4 Montez Mathis (4.0) and 6-0 Alexander (3.6) are difficult to manage. Joel Soriano, a 6-11 cross, grabs 5.3 rpg.
3. Play fast
Monmouth has shown he is capable of playing well at any tempo. But the Hawks are at their best when playing fast, scoring in transition, and putting pressure on defense. They have a better chance of outrunning St. John’s than playing on a half court.
With a starting line-up of five seniors, four of them in their fifth year, Monmouth has shown in the first eight games that they don’t let themselves be intimidated in any situation. And Seton Hall’s transfer Reynolds has played well against the Johnnies in the past.