JAMESTOWN, NY -- It was a stretch of two games that must have felt like an eternity to the Monroe Mustangs women's basketball players who are accustomed to having things go their way. On Thursday they were downed by Union CC 72-70, a game in which they had the last shot but couldn't get the final play right. Then on Saturday, in the first of their annual trip to Rochester, they ran out of gas in the second half to tournament host Monroe CC and lost, 68-50.
But true-to-form, the Mustangs straightened things out before they left northwestern New York with a Sunday win over Jamestown, 72-63, a game where they reestablished one of their talented sophomores and got a bright look at new players who should keep the 8-5 Mustangs in contention all season long.
"Let's face it, we haven't played nowhere near our best yet," said Coach James Robinson Jr. "Despite those two tough games, I still feel that we can compete at the highest level. By Sunday's game, we found some motivation and were re-energized. We didn't want to leave Rochester with a bad feeling. So we put out a good effort and came home with a win."
That effort was particularly evident in the second half of Sunday's game. Down by 14 points with twelve-minutes left, Monroe went on an 18-3 stretch, and when sophomore Aaliyah Mercer dropped in a three with 7:28 remaining, Monroe took a two-point lead and never looked back.
In fact, Coach Robinson noted Mercer's emergence. An All-American last year, Mercer hadn't really hit her stride until this weekend, coach said. Against JCC she had 15 points, three assists, and four rebounds. She also had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three assists against Union on Thursday.
The coach also singled out freshmen Troniqua Black and Shania Johnson. The 5'11" Black had team-high 17 points against the Jayhawks, shooing 6/7 from the field and grabbing eight rebounds, including four off the offensive glass. The 5'1" Johnson netted 13 points and dished seven assists.
"This is the busy schedule that we wanted for early in the season and it could be the beginning of something," Coach Robinson said. "Now we have a little home cooking ahead of us. This is our moment, so we should be ready to go."
Monroe will open a critical week of home games with a matchup against their one Region opponent, Orange, on Tuesday night. Tip-off is at 6:00pm. Then over the weekend they'll host a talented Onandoga team and Division rival CCRI.