Mustangs display the heart of a lion
March 20, 2013
It looked for all the world like the dream of a three-peat was dying. Flat-footed and down by 22 points to a top-flight (#8 seed) Iowa Central team in the first half of their first round game in the NJCAA Division II Women's Basketball National Championships, the (#9 seed) Monroe Mustangs women's basketball team hustled and clawed their way back to an 87-84 win that spoke volumes about their resolve and their moxie as defending two-time national champs. Box score Tournament Bracket and schedule
The Tritons led 31-9 with 8:52 to go in the first half as Monroe was being out-classed by Iowa Central shooters who seemed to be hitting from all corners of the court.
"In these games you have to reach inside yourself and decide how you want it to go," said Coach James Robinson Jr. "We decided we weren't going to try to come back all at once, but chip away as best we could. Getting it down to nine points at the half let us know that we could get it done. There's no doubt the experience of our sophomores was a big factor."
Predictably, Monroe's comeback was led by All-American Jasmine McRoy, who was the game's high-scorer with 24 points, despite an uneven first-half and off night from the foul line (1/6). But McRoy's stablity and leadership in handling the ball and creating on offense was indispensible. When she hit a four-point play (a three-pointer and foul shot) to cut the lead to 52-51 with 12:55 left, the signal was sent that the game was up for grabs.
Even though Iowa again extended the lead to nine, Monroe got a big contribution during crunch time from sophomore Ly'Nasha Frazier, who had her biggest game of the year, scoring 19 points and dishing for four assists. The best of it was in a stretch in the second half when she found the stroke on two three-pointers and showed confidence in the lane and at the line. It was a sign that Frazier had come all the way back from a difficult knee injury that sidelined her for last year's nationals and forced a lengthy rehab that lasted well into this season.
Another soph who showed her big-game savvy, undoubtedly picked up in part from last year's championship run, was Christina Jones, who had 12 points and five rebounds, much of it during Monroe's furious second half run.
Monroe had a huge rebounding advantage in the game, 56-40. Brianna Perlmutter nabbed 14 of them.
"Anyone who thinks this is not a team sport, doesn't know Monroe women's basketball," Coach Robinson said. "You can look up and down our bench and see contributions from everyone. We look at obstacles and as a team navigate our way around them or through them and that's why we won today."
The task for the 23-7 Mustangs is about to get tougher. After a day off on Wednesday, they'll face Mesa (AZ), the tournament's #1 seed in round two on Thursday beginning at 6:00pm (7:00pm EST). Watch the game LIVE.
The Mustangs will be making good use of their time off on Wednesday. They plan to visit the South Side Mission to support the youngsters there with homework help and some on-court fun.
2013 Women's basketball schedule and results
The 2013 Mustangs are a must watch!
March 20, 2013
New Rochelle, NY - There is no denying that there's some real excitement building around the 2013 Monroe College Mustangs baseball team… and for good reason. The Mustangs got off to a 6-1 start on the year and offensively are averaging 6.5 runs per game. The expectation for the Mustangs however, is nothing short of the goal that they have set for themselves, to win the 2013 Regional Championship and move on to the District Tournament, a goal that narrowly slipped their fingers a season ago with a dramatic extra innings loss in the semi-final round of the playoffs.
With only 10 players (in a roster of 31) returning from last season the Mustangs will be heavily relying on their talented recruiting class to return the team to championship form, especially true in the area of pitching.
Aside from pitching the Mustangs will also be counting on the middle of their order which includes sophomores Kelvin Toribio, last season's MVP and Monroe's single season homerun record holder, second baseman Omar Cuevas and newcomer and Quebec native Guillaume Gingras to be the core of the Mustangs offensive attack.
Last season Monroe finished under.500 (19-23) for the first time in the last five years but had success in conference play going 6-3. Now entering his eighth year as Mustangs head coach, Luis Melendez believes that the 2013 Mustangs not only have an abundance of talent but also have the natural desire, determination and work ethic to be successful.
“This group of guys has learned quickly what type of commitment is necessary to be able to compete on a daily basis in college baseball," said coach Melendez. "They will be pushed all season long to reach and exceed their maximum potential and will be held accountable for their actions, on and off the field,”
The Mustangs pitching staff will be headed up by sophomore Shaniel Rivera
(Bronx, NY), and freshmen's Manuel Bouffard
(Quebec City, QC) and Anthony Martinez
( Egg Harbor Township, NJ).Rivera's season was cut short last year due to an injury and although he only pitched in one game last year, he was able to demonstrate in that one game why he was so important to the Mustangs rotation. Rivera picked up the first win for the Mustangs in 2012 after pitching five scoreless innings and racking up four strikeouts.
The Mustangs expect big contributions from their bullpen in 2013 including freshmen New York natives Michael Calimeno (Brooklyn, NY - Grand Street Campus), Chris Estrada (Queens, NY - Benjamin Cardozo) and hard throwing righty Hector Vargas (Queens, NY).
Rounding out the rest of the Mustangs rotation are Angel Morales, Brian Paulino, Jean Soucy and Edwin Solivan who was promoted from last year's junior varsity.
The Mustangs lineup will be well-balanced with speed at the top and an abundance of power throughout the middle and bottom of the order. Mustangs' leadoff man and right fielder Vladimir Gomez
(second all-time among Monroe's leader in Triples) will be looked upon to be the catalyst of the offense. Gomez finished last season batting .340 and led the Mustangs in runs scored (30) and triples (6).
Coach Melendez and his staff also have high expectations for third baseman Gingras, a solid defender with tremendous balance at the plate who can hit for both average and power. Infielder Omar Cuevas who was renowned last season for his defense and speed has now become a real threat for Monroe at the plate. Playing first base Monroe will have slugger Waldermar Peitri. Pietri, who was the back up catcher last season has also come into his own this season, improving on both his defense and offense. The Mustangs expect him to have an even better season at the plate than last year (Pietri had 11 hits in 29 at-bats in 2012).
New comers Miguel Reyes, Edwin Rodriguz and Rafael Balado are all excellent additions who can contribute to both the top and the bottom of the order. Sure- handed Sophomore Fabian Chirino (Miami, Fl) will play shortstop for Monroe, with great range and a quality arm he can easily be considered a top candidate for a golden glove in 2013.
Monroe's outfield is comprised of youth and speed. Sophomores Jordan Frair and Gomez will man the corner outfield positions while sure-handed speedsters Reyes and Rodriguez will rotate in center. Rounding out the outfield for Monroe is Balado who can play all three positions.
Behind the plate the Mustangs have great depth. Rey Echenique and Nilson Ibert will split the catching duties. Echenique is a versatile backstop with a solid arm while Ibert is an intimidating figure at the plate that can hit the ball into the gaps with power and even hit one over the fence once in a while.
“I am very excited with the club that our coaching staff has put together and look forward to getting the best out of this team," expressed coach Melendez. "It's hard to ignore the feeling that we may have something special here."
The Mustangs will continue thier season on Wednesday, 3/20 when they take on Nassau Community College. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00pm