The Red Foxes opened a weekend series with Monmouth on Saturday as they dropped their second straight game in an 80-64 loss to the Hawks.
“We played in spurts where we had appropriate spacing and toughness on offense and guarded them fairly well,” said Marist head coach John Dunne. “But we didn’t play the game for forty minutes.”
Marist entered with the matchup being their fifth road game out of their last seven outings. A split home series against Niagara set them up to 6-2, a significant turnaround from last season’s 1-7 start. Monmouth previously fell twice on the road at Siena as they skidded to .500 in the conference but look to remain a contender amongst the league’s best.
It was a track meet in the first half as Monmouth broke out to a quick 16-9 lead. Monmouth’s Deion Hammond got off to a quick start with eight points before the first media timeout. The remainder of the half was an even contest as both teams traded blows, but the Hawks never relinquished their lead and took a 42-37 advantage into the half. Both teams converted at least 50 percent of their shots in the opening half and committed just a combined 12 turnovers.
The opening minutes of the second half showed another fast start for Monmouth as they got out to a 7-0 run to balloon the lead to double-digits. The lead never shrunk to less than seven in the second half where Monmouth was able to close things out and lead wire-to-wire on the way to their fourth victory of the season.
“We played like a young team that played against a veteran team on the road,” said Dunne. “We just didn’t put together a full forty.”
The Hawks were able to convert eight-for-15 from the perimeter including some timely triples to help maintain their lead in the second half. The charity stripe was unkind to the Red Foxes as they shot just three-for-10, a statistic that shows even more when Monmouth shot 18-for-23.
“We have to do a better job of driving it into the paint,” said Dunne. “When we got it into the paint today, for the most part, good things happen. We have to do a better job of that tomorrow.”
Marist was led by a strong performance from Hakim Byrd. The freshman guard notched a team-high 15 points along with five assists and no turnovers. Senior center Jordan Jones contributed with 12 points and a career-high nine rebounds. Freshman guard Ricardo Wright continued his campaign as one of the top-scoring freshmen in the MAAC with 12 points.
Pre-season All-MAAC First Team selection Deion Hammond was electric for Monmouth as he led the charge with 21 points in the win. Melik Martin pitched in with 12 points and Marcus McClary nearly reached a double-double with nine points and ten rebounds.
“We let them score way too many easy baskets at the rim,” said Dunne when asked about his takeaways. “That can’t happen and we just have to take every game as a learning experience.”
Marist will remain in West Long Branch to take on Monmouth tomorrow in the second game of their season series. Tip-off is at 2:00 p.m.
Edited by Nicholas Stanziale