Tuesday, March 5, 2013

STOP #9: MU 71, MSM 63

STOP #9: Multipurpose Activity Center, West Long Branch, NJ
Monday, March 4, 2013 – 7pm

MONMOUTH HAWKS 71 (15-14, 12-6), MSM MOUNTAINEERS 63 (14-15, 10-8)

With the clock running out on Monmouth University’s final regular season basketball game in the Northeast Conference, the clock was also ticking down on the Hawks chances of hosting a home game in the 2013 Tournament. As Monmouth and Mount St. Mary’s met in the regular season finale the stakes were tremendously high. The winner would be ensured a home game in the quarterfinals of the NEC Tournament. How important are home playoff games? In the last two seasons, teams hosting quarterfinal games have a combined record of 7-1. Monmouth has enjoyed home quarterfinal wins in each of the last two seasons as well
Mount St. Mary’s doesn’t have as many memories of hosting home playoff games, due in part to the fact that they haven’t hosted one since 2002. After returning to the tournament last year after a three year absence, head coach Bryan Whitten’s crew were determined to take that next step and secure a top four conference finish. The Mountaineers came out like a team on a mission, jumping out to a quick 6-0 lead.
The Mountaineers did an exceptional job of passing and moving the basketball. They played smart and very patient, working the perimeter, making sure every player touched the ball, made the quick extra pass when necessary, and made some textbook back door cut passes to lead to easy buckets.
I’ve always been a fan of Mount senior Selina Mann. She does all the little things and can really be a “stat stuffer,” recording numbers in just about every category. In person I’ve seen her have some dominant defensive games and I’ve seen her be a fantastic facilitator, but I’ve never seen her have as much impact scoring the basketball as she did on this night. Mann, who only had five double digit scoring performances all season, would put up 11 points in just the first half.
On the other side, Monmouth was having some major shooting woes. MU started the night shooting 3 for 15. Leading scorer Alysha Womack, who didn’t play when these teams met earlier this season, wasn’t an impact in the first half on this night either, struggling mightily. Womack shot 1 for 8 in the first half with just two points. As a team, the Hawks were outshot 57% to 34% in field goal percentage in the first half.
With the exception of a short one minute stint around the four and a half minute mark where Carly Thibault hit a three to give the Hawks a 24-22 lead, Mount led and controlled the entire first half. The Mountaineers sported a 34-30 lead going into the locker room.
At the start of the second half it was apparent switching ends and the direction they were shooting didn’t help the Hawks any. Mount went on a 5-0 run out of the locker room, not allowing a Hawk field goal for the first four minutes. Monmouth went an ice cold 0 for 8 shooting to start the second half before netting their first basket on a Sara English put back. Womack then came off of a short rest on the bench and nailed an elbow jumper at the 12:27 mark that started to get the momentum rolling.
Chevannah Paalvast tied the game at 52 from the free throw line with 6:08 to go. Then after Mount scored a basket to go back up two, Monmouth retook the lead on a Womack three at the 5:48 mark. With the game then tied at 57, Womack gave MU the lead for good at the charity stripe after knocking down a pair of free throws. Womack made her last five field goal attempts and all four of her second half free throws to finish with 17 points on the night.
Three other Hawks finished in double figures scoring, as Paalvast, Abby Martin, and Thibault all finished with 11 points. Mann led all scorers with 20 points, including 9 for 9 from the free throw line. Mount leading scorer Sydney Henderson scored 13 points with seven rebounds.
The Hawks and Mountaineers will turn right back around and match up against each other once again at the MAC when the playoffs open up on Sunday afternoon at 3pm. The teams split the regular season series with the Hawks winning on Monday night and Mount winning on January 5th in Maryland, 70-51. The Hawks have advanced to the finals in each of the last two seasons, and are appearing in their record 24th, and final, NEC Tournament. The Mountaineers will be looking to secure a win in the NEC Tournament for the first time since the 2001 semi-finals against Sacred Heart. The Mountaineers have lost their last 10 straight tournament games.
1. Alysha Womack, MU – 17 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 34 minutes (shot 1-8 FG in 1st half, shot 5-6 FG in 2nd half)
2. Selina Mann, MSM – 20 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 9-9 free throws, 33 minutes
3. Sara English, MU – 8 points, 6 rebounds, 12 minutes
The great Monmouth Pep Band and a much energized Monmouth Mob were out in full force at the MAC on Monday night as the Hawks wrapped up their regular season with a 71-64 victory over Mount St. Mary’s. The Hawks finished the regular season 10-4 at home in 2012-13 and have won their last five straight home games dating back to early February. Monmouth’s win earns them home court advantage in the quarterfinal Monmouth/Mount rematch on Sunday. Since the facility opened in 2009, the Hawks have gone 4-0 in home playoff games.
QUINNIPIAC 73, ST. FRANCIS BROOKLYN 54 – History was made as the Quinnipiac Bobcats recorded a conference record 27th single season victory en route to completing just the sixth perfect regular season campaign in league annals. The Bobcats wasted little time, jumping out to a double digit lead midway through the first half, and never allowed the Terriers to get any closer than six points for the remainder of the contest. Camryn Warner led the Bobcats with 14 points, while Jasmine Martin chipped in 12 on the night. St. Francis sophomore Sarah Benedetti led all scorers with 19. 
LIU BROOKLYN 73, SACRED HEART 68 – In a game that had zero impact on the playoff picture, the Blackbirds finished their season on a high note, upsetting the #2 team in the NEC on Senior Night, 73-68. LIU was able to pull away in the second half by making their shots. The Blackbirds went 14 for 19 from the floor while their opponents struggled shooting the basketball, at a 10 for 31 clip. Senior Krystal Wells led the Blackbirds with 16 points, while senior Tamika Guz finished up her career with a 15 point and 6 rebound showing.
FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON 59, WAGNER 54 – FDU managed to keep their season alive, but only for an extra ten minutes or so. Needing a win and a Bryant loss to make the postseason, the Knights wrapped up a 59-54 victory over Wagner just as the Bulldogs were going into overtime with Robert Morris.  When the Bulldogs pulled out the victory in thrilling fashion the FDU season came to an end, just short of returning to the postseason. Sophomore Erika Livermore led the Knights with her 23rd double-double of the season, recording 19 points and 14 rebounds.
BRYANT 61, ROBERT MORRIS 56 (OT) – The Bryant Bulldogs wrapped up their first ever NEC Tournament berth in a dramatic, heart pounding, finish in Smithfield, RI. With 15 seconds left in overtime, and the Bulldogs down one, senior Katie Whittington drained a clutch floater to put Bryant up 57-56. Danielle Douglas would intercept the inbounds pass, get fouled, and make the two ensuing free throws to put the Black and Gold up by three with 5.9 seconds showing. After RMU turned it over, Douglas would make two more from the charity stripe to clinch the victory and the eight seed in the NEC Tournament for Bryant. Whittington led Bryant with 21 points.
CCSU 76, ST. FRANCIS 71 – St. Francis trailed by 11 points with seven minutes remaining, but managed to make things a little tense in New Britain for the final few seconds. Alexa Heyward made a three with four seconds left to cut the Blue Devil lead to just two, 73-71. After a foul, Jaclyn Babe would be sent to the line. The senior would make her first but miss the second. Fortunately, her teammate Lauren Arbogast was there for the put back basket, clinching the win for CCSU. The Blue Devils were led by Jaclyn Babe’s 29 points. Red Flash junior Alli Williams recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The 2013 Northeast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament begins on the afternoon of Sunday, March 10th with four quarterfinal matchups. The action gets started with two 2pm tips in the Nutmeg State as top seeded Quinnipiac hosts Bryant at the TD Bank Sports Center and Sacred Heart welcomes in St. Francis Brooklyn to the Pitt Center. Then at 3pm, the other two games get underway as the Monmouth Hawks play the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers in West Long Branch, NJ and the St. Francis Red Flash take on Central Connecticut State in Loretto, PA. All games will be streamed live on NEC Front Row, except for Monmouth/Mount, which will be streamed live for free on the Monmouth athletics web site. The NEC WBB Road Trip blog will take a look at the All-Conference team mid-week and then will post extensive previews for all four quarterfinals on Friday.

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