NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Head Coach Jeff Brustad certainly got a memorable 400th win at the helm of the Men's Basketball team on Tuesday. The #22 Mustangs defeated #11 Indian Hills Community College, 70-64, in an upset in the opening round of the NJCAA National Championship Tournament. The game was also Brustad's 405th career win, as he earned five wins with the Women's Basketball team before switching to coaching the men.
The Mustangs opened the game with an homage to the 'old school' style of basketball, using balanced scoring, a patient offensive attack, and strong defense to dominate play. Monroe took a 13-5 lead in the first 7:29 of game time, forcing Indian Hills into a timeout. During that stretch, the Mustangs caused five turnovers.
Later, up 13-7, Dani Koljanin found Clifton Tracey for a three-pointer that made the score 16-7. At 10:54, a slashing layup from Tyler Ancrum made the score 18-9. Seven different players accounted for Monroe's first 18 points.
A three-pointer from Koljanin at 9:05 gave Monroe a double-digit advantage at 21-11. From there, the Warriors used an 11-5 run to bring the score to 26-22 with 3:25 left. The Mustangs regained momentum when Tracey connected on his second three-pointer of the half to make the score 29-22. Tracey made another bucket in the final minute of the half, and Monroe led 33-23 at the break.
The Mustangs used the first five minutes of the second half to put the game away. They had an 8-0 run to open the half, courtesy of four points from Jarron Chapman and one basket apiece from Ancrum and Donald Butler. The Butler basket at 14:59 gave Monroe its largest lead of the contest, 18 points, at 41-23.
The next five minutes saw Indian Hills mount a comeback. They put together a 13-1 run to pull within six points, at 42-36 with 10:01 left. The Warriors were able to pull within five points at 6:14.
With the Mustangs up 52-47, Will Martinez crashed the boards and scored on a tip-in off a Koljanin missed jumper, bringing the lead back to seven points. Foul shots from Mouhamadou Gueye, Martinez, and Tracey in the final minute helped seal the victory.
Tracey came off the bench to lead the team with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Koljanin had a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds.
The Monroe Men's Basketball team won't get much of a rest in the tournament; they will advance to round two against #6 Eastern Florida State on Wednesday, March 22nd, at 9:00 PM. When Monroe faced Eastern Florida in New Rochelle earlier in the year, the Titans prevailed, 65-55.