Monmouth vs Bucknell Preview and Prediction
Monmouth vs Bucknell Preview
What: Monmouth (0-8) vs. Bucknell (2-3)
Where: Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2 p.m.
This Monmouth versus Bucknell matchup has been a solid battle the last two years. The teams met in the 2016 NIT with the Hawks winning (and advancing) 90-80. They met for a second time on opening night last season, and Monmouth came away with a one-point down-to-the-wire victory.
Diago Quinn is the only holdover from both matchups for the Hawks and will bring the experience needed if Monmouth wants to capture their first win of the 2018-19 campaign.
Monmouth is in the midst of its longest road trip of the season, a four-game swing that started at Kentucky and goes through Bucknell, Hofstra and Albany. The Blue and White will go nearly a month without a home game (11/24-12/20) once you factor in a 12-day period with no games due to final exams.
The team is making its very first trip to Sojka Pavilion still seeking its first win, albeit against a very difficult schedule. The Hawks opened the season with losses to Patriot League foes Lehigh and Colgate, and since then they have fallen to Saint Joseph’s, West Virginia, Valparaiso, Cal State Fullerton, Princeton and Kentucky. Deion Hammond leads the team in scoring at 11.3 ppg, followed by Ray Salnave at 8.9 ppg. The Hawks shoot 36.4% as a team and have struggled from 3-point range at 23.8%.
After finishing near the top of the country last season in lineup combinations, King Rice has held some consistency in the starters in the early going this year. He has featured just two different combos, with Nick Rutherford, Ray Salnave, Deion Hammond and Mustapha Traore starting every game. Marcus McClary and Louie Pillari have switched on and off in the starting five, with each starting four times through the first eight contests.
Bucknell’s home struggles are a rarity. The Bison went 30-3 at home over the previous two seasons, but they are 0-3 this year with losses to Fairfield, Canisius and Northeastern. The Bison last lost three straight home games in 2015-16, and their last 0-3 home start came in 1994-95.
The Bison have spent most of their first five games trying to come from behind, and they have overcome 13-point second-half deficits in both of their victories. Bucknell has held the lead for a total of only 23:35 in the first five games. In addition to the two big rallies in wins over St. Bonaventure and Vermont, the Bison came from 15 down to tie the game in the final seconds against Fairfield, only to see the Stags win it on a shot with 0:03 left. Against Canisius, Bucknell cut a 20-point second-half deficit down to six before the rally stalled.
Monmouth was a MAAC power for a couple of seasons but with the bulk of their talent graduated, they are dealing with some roster turnover and a winless start to their season.
It won’t get any easier on the road against a Bucknell team that is typically very good at home. Despite their record on their own court this season, Bucknell should be able to keep the Hawks continuing to search for their first win.
Bucknell 69 Monmouth 65
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