Top-seed Monroe Ends ICC’s Bid for Title

by Mike Hemme of Sports Talk is McHemme, Harrison, AR

Note: Tonight’s article was written by Mike, who was covering the game for the Cougars.  We thank him for writing the article!

It was the 3-point shooting, high-octane offense that grabbed the headlines this season for Monroe Community College (NY), but it was the inside game of the Tribunes that ended Illinois Central’s run at the national championship as the Cougars fell, 74-67, to the tournament’s top seed Thursday night in the quarterfinals at Harrison’s Pioneer Pavilion.

Monroe, whose offense was in the top 10 in eight offensive categories on the season (including a total of 404 made three-pointers on the season, good for almost 13 per contest), was held to 35 percent shooting from beyond the three-point arc, but the Tribunes shot 57 percent from inside the three-point line. The duo of Jaynelle Robinson and Khady Starr controlled the paint for most of the game. Robinson recorded a double-double, with 27 points and 12 boards.

“We certainly want to credit Monroe,” said ICC Head Coach Karrie Redeker following the game. “They are a great team and well-coached. We had to pick our poison of either giving up open 3s or being handled inside by Robinson, and she got the best of us.”

The Cougars made and attempted more 3-pointers than the Tribunes in the contest.

Still, ICC refused to give up after trailing by as many as 18 in the first half. Down 34-16 with two minutes remaining in the first half, a Jasmine Levy putback ignited a 10-4 run for the Cougars to close the half. Madison Faulkner scored a bucket inside, Aubrey Magro sank a 3-pointer, and Krystal Walker banked in a three to beat the buzzer, trimming the ICC deficit to 38-26 at the break.

Redeker’s squad scored the first six points of the second half, trimming Monroe’s lead to six, 38-32, just a minute-and-a-half into the third period. Levy started the action with back-to-back field goals, and Kathy Pinnock-Branford added a bucket to complete the run. Monroe calmed things down with a 3-pointer, but Levy and Pinnock-Branford hit three free throws to match it, returning the deficit to just six at 41-35.

That was as close as the Cougars would get.

Robinson’s first field goal of the period gave Monroe a double-digit lead, and her fourth basket of the quarter gave the Tribunes their largest lead of the second half, 58-41. She went on to score another 11 points in the final stanza.

Down 14 with less than five minutes to go, 3-pointers from Bailey Larsen, Sia Williams, and Emma Henderson cut the Cougars’ deficit to 68-60. Another Larsen 3 with just over a minute play sliced it further, 72-65, but time simply ran out on ICC’s comeback bid.

After Abby Coates scored the first bucket of the game to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead, Monroe scored the next six points and finished the first quarter with a 16-10 lead.

Just as in the first quarter, Coates started the second-quarter scoring. Monroe countered with an 18-4 run, giving it its largest lead of the game, 34-16.

Levy, Faulkner and Coates each had 10 points to lead the scoring. Walker dished out five assists, had five steals, and scored five points. Faulkner and Coates each had six rebounds.

“I was proud of how our kids battled back after being down by 18 in the first half and felt we gave ourselves a chance in the second half,” Coach Redeker said after the game. “If we could have come out with a little more fire in the first half, I think the outcome could have been different.

“I fully expect our kids to be ready play hard and compete like champions tomorrow.”

The Cougars will take on Owens Community College, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, Friday at 3 p.m. Alex Staab will again provide audio only of the game at pscp.tv/StaabAlex. Fans can pay for video stream at njcaatv.com/landing/index.

If the Cougars win on Friday, they would play the host school, the North Arkansas Pioneers, in the 5th place game Saturday at 2 p.m. If the Cougars lose on Friday vs. Owens, their season will be complete.

Game goals reached:

Individual stats:

Faulkner (10 pts, 6 reb), Maynard (5pts, 3 reb), Pinnock-Branford (7 pts, 2 asts), Coates (10 pts, 6 reb), Larsen (7 pts, 3 asts), Levy (10 pts, 3 reb), Walker (5 pts, 5 stls, 5 asts), Magro (3 pts), Williams (3 pts), Henderson (5 pts) ,Banks (2 pts)