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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / October 17.
  • Monmouth Takes Down Iona, Rolls Into March on 16-Game Winning Streak

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    NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — One year after missing the NCAA Tournament, Monmouth will head into March as one of the hottest teams in the nation.

    The Hawks won their 16th straight game on Sunday with a 79-73 victory over rival Iona on Senior Day at the Hynes Athletic Center. Monmouth (26-5, 18-2 MAAC) beat Iona (19-12, 12-8) for the second time this season and hasn’t lost since Jan. 2 at Saint Peter’s.

    Only Vermont’s 18-game winning streak is longer than Monmouth’s. Princeton has won 15 straight.

    When the Hawks open the MAAC Tournament on Friday night as the No. 1 seed in their quarterfinal at the Times Union Center in Albany, they will not have lost in more than two months.

    Iona is locked into the No. 3 seed and plays its quarterfinal on Saturday night. St. Peter’s is the No. 2 seed.

    Monmouth and Iona could meet on March 6 in a rematch of last year’s final, won by Iona, 79-76, to secure the MAAC’s automatic bid.

    “We’re very excited but now a new season starts and you’ve got to ramp up a lot more,” Monmouth coach King Rice said.  “We’ve won these games before and then we face Iona on Monday night [in the MAAC final] and they’re our big brother. I still think we’re getting closer and hopefully this time we can get to Monday night.”

    Je’lon Hornbeak went 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and led Monmouth with a season-high tying 25 points and Justin Robinson added 16 points and five assists.

    “I’m confident because I have these kids,” Rice said. “We’re an older group. Senior-laden groups usually play well. We have a lot of seniors, we’re a very confident group. We wanted to win the regular season. We got to 18 [wins] and we’re extremely excited about that because this league is so tough on a night-in and night out basis.”

    Deyshonee Much paced Iona with 18 points, Jordan Washington added 16 points and eight rebounds and Jon Severe scored 14 points.

    After Iona trimmed it to 75-71 on a basket from Severe, Austin Tilghman hit two free throws for Monmouth.

    Rickey McGill missed a three-point attempt for Iona that would have trimmed the lead to 77-76.

    If the two teams meet again, Monmouth will be the favorite despite last year’s result.

    “Hopefully if we have to play them again,” Rice said, “we’ll play better the next time.”

    Asked if his team wanted a third shot at Monmouth next week, Iona’s Washington wouldn’t bite.

    “This week we gotta worry about getting better in the gym and that first game on Saturday we gotta play well,” he said, “and then we gonna worry about the rest of the teams when we play them.”

    Said Iona coach Tim Cluess: “On any night we can beat anybody, just like anybody in this league can.”

    ***

    MAAC TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
    Thur., March 2 (First round, ESPN3)
    Game 1: No. 8 Quinnipiac vs. No. 9 Niagara, 5 p.m.
    Game 2: No. 7 Canisius vs. No. 10 Marist, 7 p.m.
    Game 3: No. 6 Rider vs. No. 11 Manhattan, 9 p.m.

    Fri. March 3 (Quarterfinals, ESPN3)
    Game 4: No. 1 Monmouth vs. No. 8 Quinnipiac/No. 9 Niagara, 7 p.m.
    Game 5: No. 2 St. Peter’s vs. No. 7 Canisius/No. 10 Marist, 9 p.m.

    Sat. March 4 (Quarterfinals, ESPN3)
    Game 6: No. 3 Iona vs. No. 6 Rider/No. 11 Manhattan, 7 p.m.
    Game 7: No. 4 Siena vs. No. 5 Fairfield, 9 p.m.

    Sun. March 5 (Semifinals, ESPN3)
    Game 4 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 4:30 p.m.
    Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 7 p.m.

    Mon. March 6
    Championship game, 9 p.m., ESPN2

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    Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.