By Paul Gotham
ROCHESTER, NY –Three Tribunes scored 14 apiece as Monroe Community College outlasted the SUNY Delhi Broncos, 65-57 in NJCAA action on George Monagan Court, Tuesday night.
Tashawn Desir (Brooklyn, NY/NIA School) netted 10 of his 14 after the break as the Tribunes improved to 11-5 on the season with their fourth consecutive triumph.
Desir provided back-to-back baskets midway through the second half to keep Monroe afloat.
“I’ll do anything to propel my team to a win,” Desir said. “I’ve got to be a leader every game. I can’t take a game off.”
Coming out of a timeout, SUNY Delhi went 2-3 zone for the first time on the night and cut the Tribune lead to six. Desir answered as he used an upfake to create space, drove across the lane going from right to left and finished off the window. On the next trip down the floor he got behind the Broncos defense and drilled a catch-and-shoot jumper along the baseline for a 56-48 Monroe lead with 5:54 remaining.
“They play a pressure defense,” Desir explained. “The backdoor was wide open. I faked one way and went backdoor.”
Desir hit 6 of 10 from the floor and added one from behind the arc in four attempts.
After struggling for much of the game from the free throw line, MCC converted nine of their final 12 chances from the charity stripe to salt away the victory. The Tribunes finished 21 of 36 from the line.
“We played hard, but you can’t miss 15 free throws against a good team,” said Monroe head coach Jerry Burns. “That definitely hurt us.”
Clinging to an eight-point lead late in the second half, the Tribunes missed the front end of a one-and-one on three consecutive trips. Delhi took advantage and cut their deficit to four.
“There’s a big difference between an eight-point game and four-point game,” Burns said. “That’s where we could never get over that hump.”
Isaiah Davis (Elizabeth, NJ/Elizabeth) converted all four of his free throw attempts in the closing moments.
“We did a good job defensively at the end,” Burns said. “We only gave up one easy basket near the end I thought.”
The freshman guard hit all seven of his attempts from the stripe on the night finishing with 14 points on 3 of 7 shooting from the floor.
“This win was very important,” Davis commented. “This was a great win. We kept them under 60 points which was our goal.”
Davis sparked a 15-3 run midway through the first half as the Tribunes took a lead they never surrendered. He drew contact in transition scoring in the lane. After a free throw, he gave the Tribs a 17-14 advantage. The 6-3 Davis followed with a 3-pointer in transition bringing a timeout from the SUNY Delhi bench.
Davis stretched the lead to seven with a pull-up jumper just outside the lane. He used a behind the back dribble and a crossover to get separation from his defender.
“I was just trying to jab at him and blow past him,” Davis said. “I pulled it back, and the defender was going back toward the rim, and I saw I had the shot, so I pulled up.”
One trip later, Elijah Tillman (Garnerville, NY/ North Rockland) used a drop step middle and a jump hook to score in the lane. Manny Joseph (Brooklyn, NY/ Midwood) hit one of two free throws before Dykweil Bryan (Brooklyn, NY/ Queens Academy) converted a steal and lay up for a 27-17 Monroe lead.
Delhi responded. Arif Mehmetaj (Queens, NY/Forest Hills) used an upfake to get space for a jumper from the left wing. D.J. Nickelson (Hempstead, NY/South Side) finished a drive from the right side. Sean Scott (Deer Park, NY/Deer Park) scored a pair of baskets at the rim, the second on a dish from Matthew Banton (Brooklyn, NY/ Transit Tech) to cut the deficit to four at 31-27.
Joseph closed the half with five points on a three and a pretty dish from Bryan for a 40-33 Monroe advantage at half.
Joseph hit 4 of 9 from the floor and led the Tribunes with seven rebounds.
“It’s easy when you have the teammates that I got,” Joseph stated. “We just play off each other. I just got to stay ready, so I can shoot. Whenever I’m open, coach gives me the confidence to shoot.”
The game was Monroe’s last before starting conference play at Mercyhurst NE on Thursday.
“Right now we’re going into conference play, so we want to get the number one seed and host our Region,” Joseph noted. “It’s important to keep up the intensity in every game.”
The Tribunes hit 14-of-27 from the floor in the first half.
Andre McFarlane (Queens, NY/North Queens) had three of Monroe’s eight blocks.
Damon Miraud (Elizabeth, NJ/ Elizabeth) led the Tribunes with three assists.
Ibrahima Toure (Brooklyn, NY/ HS for Law and Tech) notched a double-double for the Broncos with 11 points on 5 of 11 shooting to go with 10 boards. Nickelson led Delhi with 14 and a game-high four assists. Mehmetaj added 12.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Broncos who fell to 11-3 on the season.
Delhi outrebounded Monroe 42-41.
Paul Gotham is the founder, owner, editor and lead writer at Pickin’ Splinters. Paul is the Communications and Media Director of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. He is a contributor at USA Today and member of the USBWA. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PickinSplinters.