Justin Robinson

Associated Press

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Showdowns in the Atlantic 10, MAAC

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: George Washington at Dayton, 7:00 p.m.

With both St. Bonaventure and VCU atop the Atlantic 10 standings with 4-0 league records, this is a big matchup for contenders George Washington and Dayton as both enter this game 3-1. The Flyers rebounded from a disappointing effort in their loss at La Salle with a win over Davidson earlier this week, with Scoochie Smith leading a balanced offensive attack with 18 points and four assists.

The key for Dayton is turnovers, more specifically the unforced errors that occur a little too often for Archie Miller’s liking. George Washington has one of the top defenders in the country in senior Patricio Garino, and their 1-3-1 zone can be a tough task for opponents to attack. It should be noted that GW guard Joe McDonald will miss his second straight game due to an eye injury.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Monmouth at Iona, 9:00 p.m.

The preseason favorite to win the MAAC hosts the team that boasts the conference’s best overall résumé in New Rochelle. Iona’s dealt with injuries (Shadrac Casimir’s done for the season, A.J. English just returned) and the departure of Kelvin Amayo, but others have stepped forward and as a result Tim Cluess’ team sits atop the MAAC standings. One game behind them in the loss column are the Hawks, who have won eight of their last nine games. The two frontrunners for MAAC Player of the Year will be on the same court with English and Monmouth’s Justin Robinson being those players. Both teams can put points on the board, but which one can string together the stops needed to get the win?

OTHER GAMES OF NOTE

  • Akron visits Toledo (7:00 p.m.) in a MAC crossover game, with the Zips among three teams tied atop the MAC East at 2-1 and the Rockets 1-2 in the MAC West. Tod Kowalczyk’s team needs to hold serve, as they’re already two games behind a Northern Illinois (3-0 MAC West) team they lost to Tuesday night.
  • Illinois State hosts Evansville (9:00 p.m.) in a matchup of teams hoping to make a run at Wichita State in the Missouri Valley. The talented tandem of D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius lead the way for the Purple Aces, but the Redbirds have an all-MVC candidate of their own in Devaughn Akoon-Purcell.

FRIDAY’S REMAINING SCHEDULE

  • Albany at Maine, 12:00 p.m.
  • Siena at Quinnipiac, 7:00 p.m.
  • Niagara at Fairfield, 7:00 p.m.
  • Canisius at Manhattan, 7:00 p.m.

VIDEO: Monmouth Bench Mob reenacts ‘Star Wars’ scene in win at Rutgers

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The Monmouth Bench Mob has been one of the biggest stories in college basketball to this point in the season, as the Hawks’ deep reserves get highly creative in celebrating the successes of their teammates. And Sunday was no different, as King Rice’s team held off Rutgers 73-67 for their fifth win over a team from a high-major conference this season (all either on the road or on a neutral court).

The Bench Mob celebrated big plays throughout the game, from “playing” baseball after one three-pointer to getting on the floor and hitting the bench press after a teammate finished a basket while being fouled (there was also the reenactment of Santa with his reindeer and the dance from “Thriller”).

But their top celebration Sunday afternoon was their reenactment of a scene from “Star Wars,” a good move given the fact that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hit theaters this weekend. The “Star Wars” celebration can be seen in the link above.

As for Santa and his reindeer, that celebration is below.

Videos courtesy of Big Ten Network

SUNDAY’S SNACKS: Monmouth picks off another high-major opponent

Associated Press
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GAME OF THE DAY: Monmouth 73, Rutgers 67

The Hawks picked up their fifth win of the season over an opponent from a high-major conference, and unlike the previous four King Rice’s team was expected to beat the Scarlet Knights. Justin Robinson led three Hawks in double figures with 14 points, and thanks to their defense Monmouth won despite shooting 4-for-18 from three. Monmouth (now 1-17 against Big Ten programs) limited Rutgers, which came into the game as a 10.5-point underdog, to 30.8 percent shooting from the field.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Pittsburgh 94, Davidson 69: It was the 9-1 Panthers who showed off some offensive firepower in Brooklyn, with Michael Young leading the way with 24 points while also grabbing six rebounds. Jamie Dixon’s team shot 54.5 percent from the field while limiting the Wildcats to 34.8 percent shooting. Bob McKillop’s team also shot 6-for-30 from three on the day as they fell to 7-2 on the season.

No. 25 UConn 88, UMass-Lowell 79: Rodney Purvis scored a season-high 28 points to lead the Huskies to the win in a game that was closer than many anticipated it being. UConn shot 64 percent from the field as a team, and five players scored in double figures. Jahad Thomas led the way for the River Hawks, who beat Boston College earlier this month, with 19 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

Samford 69, Nebraska 58: Scott Padgett’s Bulldogs picked up the program’s first-ever win over a Big Ten opponent Sunday night, with Christen Cunningham leading three Bulldogs in double figures with 20 points. Samford was able to keep Nebraska off balance offensively through the use of full-court pressure and a matchup zone, and this had a major impact on the Huskers’ supporting cast. Shavon Shields scored 25 points (10-for-14 FG) and Andrew White III added 17 and 11 boards, but their efforts weren’t enough to keep Nebraska from losing as their teammates combined to shoot 4-for-20 from the field.

STARRED

Damon Lynn, NJIT: Lynn led the Highlanders to their first-ever win over a Big East program, scoring 32 points while also accounting for six rebounds and three assists in an 83-74 win at St. John’s.

Devin Martin, Maryland-Eastern Shore: Martin scored a career-high 34 points to lead the Hawks to a 79-64 win at American. Martin also had four steals in the win.

James Webb III, Boise State: Webb accounted for 31 points, eight rebounds and four steals in the Broncos’ 90-79 home win over Bradley.

STRUGGLED

Juan’ya Green, Hofstra: Green had a tough afternoon in the Pride’s 71-68 loss at Stony Brook, scoring five points on 1-for-8 shooting. Struggling with foul trouble, Green also committed four turnovers.

Brian Sullivan, Davidson: Sullivan shot just 2-for-13 from the field (2-for-10 from three) in the Wildcats’ 25-point loss to Pittsburgh in Brooklyn.

Nebraska: The Huskers have a lot of new pieces this season, and they struggled in a loss to Samford Sunday night. Remove Shavon Shields and Andrew White III from the equation, and Nebraska’s other players combined to shoot 4-for-20 from the field.

OTHER NOTABLE SCORES

  • Jameel Warney scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Stony Brook held off Hofstra 71-68. Dealing with foul trouble throughout, Hofstra’s Juan’ya Green scored just five points.
  • Little Rock moved to 10-0 on the season with an 84-57 win over Northern Arizona. Little Rock reserves scored a total of 58 points, with Marcus Johnson Jr. accounting for 15 of them.
  • James Madison moved to 9-3 with a 67-61 win over East Carolina, with Ron Curry scoring 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
  • Jaylen Shaw’s three-pointer with four seconds remaining gave Coastal Carolina a 68-56 win over Alabama State.
  • Egidijus Mockevicius tallied 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead Evansville to an 85-77 win at Fresno State. Mockevicius also blocked three shots for the Purple Aces.
  • Shane Richards scored 28 points, making seven three-pointers, and Rich Williams added 23 and ten rebounds as Manhattan won 78-66 at Morgan State.