After being in the lead for most of the game, the Monmouth University Hawks fell to the Rider University Broncs by a final score of 70 to 63 earlier today at Monmouth’s MAC Center in West Long Branch, New Jersey. As you’ll see from the pictures below, there weren’t too many fans on hand thanks to the unofficial “snow day” going on in New Jersey. The Asbury Park Press reported that there were about 550 people in attendance for the game – which isn’t so bad when you consider the fact that a blizzard was going on outside the arena. However, there were certainly enough passionate Hawk fans to let the referees know how horrible they thought most of the calls were for the majority of the game. I normally don’t get on the case of the referees because I know that’s a hard, thankless job, but even I was astounded at the ridiculousness of some of the calls this afternoon.
Of course, the referees weren’t the reason for the Hawks dropping the lead in the last few minutes of the game. An empowered Rider offense combined with a strong full court press defense to put some severe pressure on the Hawks. The full court press has been tough for the Hawks to combat this season and when Rider brought it out today the defensive strategy helped to foul out two of the Hawks’ leaders.
Here’s a brief recap of the game from the Associated Press:
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. — Justin Robinson scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half as Rider rallied for a 70-63 victory over Monmouth (N.J.) on Saturday.
The game, originally scheduled for 7 p.m., was moved up to 2 p.m. because of an impending snowstorm.
The Broncs (8-5), who trailed 31-27 at the half, used a 16-5 run to turn a 46-41 deficit with 9:39 remaining into a 57-51 lead with 5:10 left.
That run was capped by three consecutive layups by Jhamar Youngblood, who played two seasons for the Hawks (3-9) before transferring and sitting out last season. Youngblood scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.
Will Campbell scored 27 points to lead Monmouth, including 22 in the second half. Travis Taylor scored 20 for Monmouth, including nine during a 13-2 first-half run that turned an 8-2 deficit into a 15-10 lead.
Will Campbell definitely had a great game today. As the Associated Press story above reports, he scored 27 points – which also ties him for a career high. Not bad for a Sophomore; Campbell is absolutely one of the foundations on which Head Coach Dave Calloway will build the future of his team. As a fan of Monmouth basketball, that sounds great to me!
Another great storyline that played itself out during the game was the return of Jhamar Youngblood to the Monmouth University campus. Youngblood played a few seasons at Monmouth before transferring to Rider. I’m not sure of the reasons why he left the team and went to Rider, but I do know that there was a vocal section of fans at the top of the lower level across from the benches who were dogging the kid out all game. That’s what happens when you leave one team and go to another, I guess. It was definitely entertaining to watch. Almost as entertaining as listening to the fans on our side of the arena go after the referees! Seriously, though, one of the referees was absolutely horrendous.
The Monmouth team is much better than their record would show. I look for a strong showing from the Hawks in the coming weeks as 2009 comes to a close. Before I close up this post with thirty-something pictures from the game, I want to give two quick shout outs to Coach and GGL for coming along to the game! Oh, I’m experimenting with different functions on my camera and which ones are the best for taking action shots. You’ll see that some of the pictures are crisper than the ones I took at the Monmouth vs. UPenn game, but that other pictures are darker in tone. I’m working on it…