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Thursday, February 15, 2007

MU vs. CCSU/Press story for Friday


WEST LONG BRANCH - Perhaps it was poetic justice that Central Connecticut State University clinched the 2006-2007 Northeast Conference regular season men's basketball championship Thursday night at the expense of Monmouth.
For the Hawks, continuing to sink like a stone in the NEC standings, it was another case of poetry not in motion.
""This is a great accomplishment,'' said forward Obie Nwadike of CCSU (16-10, 14-1) after the 70-65 triumph over a Monmouth team (11-15, 6-8) that had ended the Blue Devils' last three seasons.
Nwadike scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half to help secure CCSU's 12th consecutive victory and present its senior class with its first win at Boylan Gym in seven tries.
""Just before we got out of here I needed to get one win,'' said Nwadike. ""It feels good to finally get a win here.''
""Not good,'' was the manner in which Monmouth senior Marques Alston described his reaction to CCSU's title clinching on Monmouth's floor.
Also not good is Monmouth's position in the eighth and last playoff slot in the NEC standings. The Hawks are one game ahead of Long Island U. (9-16, 5-9) who won at Fairleigh Dickinson Thursday.
LIU also owns the tie-breaker over the Hawks who they defeated Dec. 7 in West Long Branch.
Monmouth, with four regular season games remaining, has three on the road where it is 2-10. The fading defending NEC Tournament champions visit Mount St. Mary's (9-17, 8-7) Saturday before Tuesday heading to Brooklyn for a game at LIU.
""It didn't seem like we had a sense of urgency (at the outset of the game),'' said Alston who had 11 points and six rebounds.''
""It seemed like were were lackadaisical, like we didn't get up for the game.
Monmouth coach Dave Calloway had two views on the game. ""After the game I told the guys I was obviously proud of them that they didn't quit,'' said Calloway.
His team trailed by 14 points at the half, 37-23, and faced a 13-point deficit with 7:54 showing.
But at halftime Calloway also said he vehemently discussed a seemingly year long problem. ""Our mental toughness,'' said Calloway. ""Mental toughness is a lot of things which we can go over all day.''
With freshman Jhamar Youngblood pouring in all 15 of his points over the final 5:34 Monmouth got within 69-65 on a three by Dejan Delic (19 points, four rebounds) with 14 seconds showing. But the comeback bid was more cosmetic than realistic.
Junior Tristan Blackwood led CCSU with 21 points and senior guard Javier Mojica 18 including a key basket in the waning moments.
His running hook shot in the lane with the shot clock about to expire provided CCSU a 64-57 cushion with 55 seconds showing.
""It was a big bucket,'' Mojica said.
Monmouth helped dig itself a first-half hole from the foul line. A poor foul shooting team all season it bricked 11 of its first 13 attempts. Though it went on to sink 15 of 17 in the second half the damage had already been done.
CCSU held off the Hawks with a 27-for 33 (81 per cent) showing which included making 10 of 14 down the stretch.
""We've got to get ready to practice tomorrow (Friday) and see what we can do on Saturday,'' Alston said.


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