ALBANY, NY – Austin Tilghman hit the go-ahead free throws with 3.1 seconds left as Monmouth edged Siena Basketball 93-89 in a triple overtime heartbreaker in front of 7,244 at the Times Union Center. Sophomore guard Khalil Richard scored a career-high 23 points for the Saints which played in their program record fifth overtime game this season.
Tilghman scored half of his career-high tying 24 points during the extra sessions, and added eight rebounds, five assists, and four steals for Monmouth (10-18, 6-10) which has captured nine of the 11 meetings between the programs since joining the MAAC in 2013-14. Hawks’ leading scorer and unanimous Preseason First Team All-MAAC selection Micah Seaborn returned from a seven-game absence to contribute 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists.
Junior forward Evan Fisher scored 19 points for Siena (8-21, 4-12) which played in its third overtime contest in its past four home games, including its second triple overtime affair. Freshman guard Jordan Horn added 14 points and sophomore guard Ahsante Shivers tallied 10 off the bench for the Saints which played in their 11th game decided by four points or less.
Horn tied the game one final time at 89 with 4.3 seconds to go, but Tilghman was fouled on the ensuing inbounds and converted four free throws in the waning seconds to ice it. Tilghman connected on eight of his nine foul shots during the extra sessions for Monmouth, which collectively shot 16-19 (84%) from the charity stripe during the overtime periods after having shot just 13-21 (62%) during regulation.
In an epic battle which featured 18 ties and 18 lead changes – including seven ties and 10 lead changes during the overtime periods alone – Siena spotted the Hawks the first nine points as Monmouth claimed a 36-34 lead at the half. Richard connected on six of his eight shot attempts in the opening stanza in accounting for exactly half of the Saints’ scoring output over the opening 20 minutes.
A tightly contested second half saw neither side lead by more than four points. Monmouth claimed its final advantage on a pair of Tilghman free throws with a minute to play, but sophomore forward Thomas Huerter, Jr. hit a short jumper with 23.8 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime tied at 66.
In the first extra session, Siena connected on three of its five field goal attempts including a Shivers layup to put the Saints in front 74-72 with 30.1 seconds to go. However, Ray Salnave made both of his free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining to second the game to a second extra session.
Monmouth seemed poised to claim the contest in double overtime, opening a five-point cushion at 85-80 with 25.8 seconds remaining. But freshman guard Christian Bentley converted a three-point play, and Siena then forced a jump ball tie up to regain possession. The clutch Horn drew a foul with 2.3 ticks on the clock, and calmly sank both free throws as the game went to a third and decisive overtime period.
Deion Hammond and Zac Tillman added 16 and 15 points respectively for Monmouth, which held advantages in points in the paint (34-20), points off turnovers (36-13), and second chance points (39-21).
Meanwhile the Saints shot 20-25 from the free throw line, connected on 11 threes, and received 39 points from their bench.
Siena concludes its regular season home slate Wednesday when the Saints host Fairfield on Senior Night at 7 p.m. The team will honor Kadeem Smithen and manager Robert McCarthy in a special pregame ceremony.