WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. (AP)Reyne Smith made seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points, Dalton Bolon added 15 points and No. 18 Charleston won its 19th straight with a 69-55 victory over Monmouth on Thursday night.
The Cougars (20-1, 8-0 Colonial Athletic Association), whose 20 wins are the most in Division I, extended the nation’s longest winning streak. Charleston is ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for the third consecutive week, jumping four spots this week for its highest ranking since being No. 16 in the 1998-99 season.
Charleston trailed 31-28 at halftime after making just eight field goals and turning it over eight times. Smith kept the Cougars close with three 3-pointers and Bolon added 10 points. Monmouth led for 16 minutes, 34 seconds in the first half.
”It was just, `What’s the score?’ and everybody said 0-0,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said about his halftime message in a postgame radio interview. ”I said the challenge is how you respond. We’ve responded a lot to success throughout the course of the last couple of months. We had to respond to a little bit of adversity.”
Charleston made seven of its first 14 shots of the second half to build a 48-39 lead after eight minutes. The Cougars went on a 13-0 run during the stretch with two 3-pointers apiece from Smith and Ben Burnham.
Pat Robinson III gave Charleston its first double-digit lead at 54-44 with 8:19 left in the second half after a personal 5-0 run. Monmouth got as close as seven with five minutes to go before Smith made his seventh 3-pointer to go ahead by 10 again.
Charleston finished 19 of 53 from the field (36%) with 15 turnovers. The Cougars were coming off consecutive games with at least 15 made 3-pointers, but were 12 of 30 against Monmouth.
”As we know, every team, every venue we go into, it will be their biggest game on their schedule right now,” Kelsey added. ”We’re going to get everybody’s best shot and we got a heck of a shot from them in the first half.”
All seven of Smith’s field goals were from long range and he also made all six of his free throws. Bolon, the reigning CAA player of the week, was 4 of 12 from the field and Ante Brzovic, who scored 17 points in each of the past two games, was held to six points.
Andrew Ball scored 16 points and Myles Foster added 15 for Monmouth (1-18, 0-6). Foster made Monmouth’s lone free throw, in just seven attempts, compared to Charleston’s 19 for 28.
The Hawks remain winless at home, with their lone win coming at Manhattan on Dec. 4.
Charleston continues its road trip to Boston where it will face Northeastern on Saturday.
Monmouth hosts Hampton on Saturday.
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