The Hawks, to say the least, stunned UCLA on the floor where Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton once ruled and where head coach John Wooden led his Bruins to their 10 NCAA titles.
For the first time in program history, Monmouth beat a PAC-12 opponent Nov. 13, defeating UCLA, 84-81, in overtime before a crowd of 6,674 at Pauley Pavilion.
The Hawks overcame a 13-point deficit in the second half and a five-point gap in overtime to knock off the Bruins on opening night, going on a 9-1 run to finish the game.
“Our kids kept believing,” head coach King Rice said in a prepared statement. “These guys aren’t afraid of the moment. We have a great group of kids.”
Collin Stewart skied for an offensive rebound and went to the line with 18.9 seconds remaining in overtime, hitting both free throws to give Monmouth an 82-81 lead after trailing, 80-75, fewer than two minutes earlier. Je’lon Hornbeak rebounded a Bruins miss with 8.9 seconds to play and buried both from the stripe, and Aaron Holiday’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer to tie the game was off the mark, giving Monmouth an opening-night upset in Los Angeles.
Monmouth trailed, 80-75, in the extra session before junior Zac Tillman knocked home four straight free throws on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to one. Hornbeak ripped a loose ball away on the baseline and Micah Seaborn drew a foul on the ensuing drive, hitting one of two free throws to tie the game at 80. After Aaron Holiday split a pair from the free-throw line, Monmouth went on the 4-1 spurt to end overtime and get the win. All of Monmouth’s nine points to finish the game on a 9-1 stretch came from the charity stripe.
Stewart led Monmouth (1-0) with 19 points on 5- for-13 shooting and 3-for-8 from downtown in addition to a clutch 6-for-6 from the foul line. Justin
Robinson added 16 points and six steals to go with three assists, while Seaborn shot 6-for-14 from the floor to total
14 points and five rebounds. Hornbeak scored seven while contributing six rebounds and four assists.
UCLA’s Tony Parker had 19 points and 19 boards in the loss, while Bryce Alford scored 22 and added five assists. Thomas Welsh had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Monmouth forced 23 turnovers and turned that into a 23-5 edge in points off turnovers, while also outrunning UCLA in transition to the tune of 8-0 on the night.