Monmouth showed off the best version of itself Thursday night with a 91-72 victory over longtime rival Quinnipiac in the opening night of MAAC play.
The two schools met for many years as conference rivals in the NEC before joining the MAAC prior to the 2013-14 season. Although Quinnipiac holds a 19-16 edge in the all-time series, the Hawks have now won three in a row over the Bobcats.
Here are three thoughts on Monmouth’s MAAC-opening win at Quinnipiac:
The Hawks can shoot. Monmouth lit it up from long range Thursday night, shooting 14-31 from behind the arc on the evening. Seniors Collin Stewart and Je’lon Hornbeak combined for 10 of those 3-pointers. Stewart was perfect from the field, with a 5-5 mark from downtown.
“I’ve got a bunch of kids that can really shoot,” Monmouth head coach King Rice said after the win. “[Players] that would be known as shooters. That you would not want them to get a look. Tonight we moved it around and truly shared the ball, and when these guys get open looks they’re going to make them.”
Redshirt sophomore Micah Seaborn played just seven minutes in the first half, returning in the final few minutes after picking up two quick fouls, but finished the night with 17 points next to his name. Seaborn joined the long-range party with a trio of trifectas, and all told did his damage in a swift 19 minutes.
Quinnipiac’s freshmen continue to impress. First-year players Peter Kiss and Mikey Dixon accounted for 33 of the Bobcats’ points Thursday night, following up breakout performances in the Advocare Invitational with another strong showing.
Dixon, a New Castle, Delaware native, paced the Bobcats with 18 points after posting 21 against Indiana State last time out in Quinnipiac’s sole win of the season.
Kiss, a native New Yorker, broke out in a big way in Orlando, averaging 16 ppg over the Bobcats’ three Florida contests. That performance earned him the attention of the Monmouth scouting team heading into the MAAC opener, but despite a slow start Kiss was able to post 15 points.
“He’s a tough kid,” Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore said of Kiss. “He struggled at times with how he was going guarded tonight. That’s a credit to Monmouth. … He has no fear in him whatsoever and that’s a good quality to have.”
Rice has lots of pieces to play with. Perhaps the most encouraging sign from the Hawks’ blowout was the line from senior Justin Robinson. The reigning MAAC Player of the Year had far from his best shooting night, scoring 10 points on 4-13 shooting, but handed out eight assists.
In total, 11 of the 13 Hawks to see action scored. The starting lineup including Robinson, Hornbeak and Seaborn is as volatile as any group in the league, but the supporting cast has plenty of fire to let loose as well.
“I’ve got a lot of kids to get in the game,” Rice added. “I’m the lucky one that I have all these kids trusting me to be their coach.”
Simply the fact that Monmouth has so many options that they can blow out a conference foe without relying on a lights-out performance from their most prominent face should strike fear into the rest of the league.
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for NYC Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.