PLAY-IN GAME Hampton, Monmouth keep NCAA dreams alive
DAYTON (AP) -- History is a good-news-bad-news thing for both Monmouth and Hampton, which face each other in the opening-round game of the NCAA tournament tonight.
Monmouth, of West Long Branch, N.J., has lost all three of its NCAA tourney games, but beat Hampton, of Hampton, Va., two years ago.
Hampton is 1-2 in the tournament, but became only the fourth team to knock off a No. 2 seed when it beat Iowa State 58-57 in 2001.
The winner of the play-in game will be a No. 16 seed and face No. 1-seeded Villanova in Philadelphia on Friday.
Monmouth (18-14) got to the tournament by beating Fairleigh Dickinson 49-48 to win the Northeast Conference championship. Hampton (16-15) won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament with a 60-56 victory over Delaware State.
Monmouth coach Dave Calloway suspected his team would play Hampton, so on Saturday he reviewed the tape of the game when his team beat the Pirates two years ago in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. On Sunday, Calloway had his players practice as if they would play Hampton.
"We're playing a team that is similar to us," Calloway said. "They'll be more athletic than us. So we'll have to run our offense."
Monmouth is paced by forwards Dejan Delic and Marques Alston, who both average 12 points per game. Hampton is led by forward Jaz Cowan, who averaged 13.2 points and seven rebounds in the regular season.
"We're going to have to be patient. We're going to have to be disciplined," Hampton coach Bobby Collins said.
He said his team will have to use its size and speed to limit the Hawks to one shot per possession, work the ball inside and get offensive rebounds.
Hampton enters the play-in game with four straight victories after losing the previous six of seven games.
Monmouth played in the NCAA tournament in 1996, 2001 and 2004, losing to Marquette, Duke and Mississippi State by a combined 100 points.
The Northeast Conference has not won an NCAA Tournament game since Robert Morris won an opening-round game in 1983, a span of 23 games.