Some memories fade. Others leave an imprint. For the Monroe Community College Tribunes, the memory of an early-season loss served as motivation Thursday night.
Algeron Torrance (Syracuse, NY/Corcoran) and Jahvari Josiah (Brooklyn, NY/Beach Channel) speared a furious comeback as Monroe defeated the Mercyhurst North East Saints 76-68 in WNYAC action on George Monagan Court.
Down nine with less than nine minutes remaining, the Tribunes closed on a 25-8 run for the victory.
Josiah’s acrobatic lay up on a pass from Torrance gave the Tribs a lead they never surrendered. The duo combined two trips later when Torrance hit Josiah cutting from the wing for a 67-64 edge.
“We work on that in practice,” Josiah said of the passing combination for the basket. “It’s automatic. It’s like second-nature.”
Josiah finished another in the lane before Torrance hit a pair from the free throw line and used the window to score in the lane for a 73-66 lead.
“Everything for us is instinct,” Algeron commented. “It’s just a reflection of what we do in practice all the time.”
Algeron finished with a double-double and team-highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds. The sophomore forward has scored 33 with 19 bounds in the last two games.
“Those are the things we were expecting from him,” Monroe coach Jerry Burns said. “He played really well tonight. He had that hop in his step. He made some tough shots. He did a really good job at the free throw line.”
Andre Armstrong (Queens, NY/Notre Dame Prep) connected on his fourth three-pointer of the night to bring the Tribs within one at 64-63.
“It was a big win,” Armstrong said. It was payback.”
MCC fell 112-106 to Mercyhurst earlier in the season when the two teams met at the TJ Memorial Classic in Kirtland, Ohio.
“We knew we had to come out and play a good game,” Josiah added. “Last time it wasn’t pretty.”
The Saints have surpassed the century six times this season.
“They got some guys that can play,” Burns noted. “They got some guys who can shoot. They got guys who can take it to the basket, so you have to be able to play straight up man-to-man. It’s not a matter of what they run. It’s not a whole lot of Princeton offense. You got to lock them down one-on-one.”
The Black and Gold held the Saints to just three field goals in the final nine minutes.
Marcus Feagin (Niagara Falls, NY/ Niagara Falls) and Francis Obumneme (Nigeria/Konigin Des Fredes) combined to block shots and gather rebounds on consecutive possessions during the comeback.
“The difference was our defensive rebounding,” Burns continued. “We had two of those guys on the other team get a lot of easy second shots. Then Francis just really took care of the boards. Every rebound was his.”
Obumneme finished with nine boards.
The Tribs started the game quickly. Torrance netted eight as the MCC stormed to an early ten-point advantage.
The sophomore forward opened the scoring when he grabbed an Armstrong three-point attempt, used an upfake and stepped through the defense for a lay up.
Josiah followed picking the pocket of DeJuan McGaughy (Columbus, OH/Marion-Franklin) and getting to the rim for a two-handed dunk.
Torrance hit a pair of free throws. Kenny Johnson (Philadelphia, PA/Abington Friends) came off a Torrance ball screen going to his right and hit a pull up jumper at the free throw line.
A quick rebound and outlet and the Tribs got in transition with Johnson feeding Torrance for a reverse lay up and getting a timeout from the Mercyhurst bench.
Torrance increased the score to 12-2 when pulled in his own miss and laid it in over the rim.
The Saints marched back. Ben Jones (Columbus, OH/Westerville-South) connected on four-of-nine from behind the arc. His third from the top of the key made it 20-16. He followed with a transition lay up in traffic to trim the lead to two.
Isaiah Jefferson (Buffalo, NY/Buffalo East) offered a response. After hitting a pair from the free throw line, Jefferson went off the dribble from the wing. The sophomore guard took his man one bounce to the left before crossing back to the right for the pull up jumper. He followed with an open floor dunk on a lead from Eddie Callender (Philadelphia, PA/Lankenau).
The Tribs led at half 37-35.
Anthony Jones and Ben Jones pushed the Saints as they grabbed the lead early in the second half.
Ben Jones hit 5-of-11 from behind the arc and led all scorers with 23. Anthony Jones added 14 while McGaughy chipped in 13.
Jefferson scored 13. Armstrong contributed 12 with Josiah getting 10.
The Tribs outrebounded Mercyhurst 45-44. MCC had 14 assists on their 28 field goals.
Mercyhurst falls to 10-8.
The Tribs improve to 11-8. MCC plays at Niagara CC on Saturday.