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Monday, February 19, 2007

MU women - A Devil of a time to play badly

By TONY GRAHAM
STAFF WRITER

WEST LONG BRANCH - Monmouth University sophomore guard Marisa Jimenez wore a face mask over her injured nose Monday night. But it was the Hawks who generally showed up in disguise.
Bearing no resemblance to the team that gutted out a hard fought win Saturday at Mount St. Mary's, Monmouth was buried by struggling Central Connecticut State, 64-48, incurring a serious blow to its hopes of hosting a first round Northeast Conference Tournament game.
""We just started off slow, they got off to a pretty big lead,'' said Brianne Edwards, Monmouth junior point guard. ""We tried to play catch up. This late in the season you can't do that.''
While Monmouth (16-10, 9-6) also failed to resemble the team that Jan. 20 won handily at CCSU, the Blue Devils (6-21, 4-12), hardly appeared to be a program in danger of failing to qualify for the post season.
They limped into Boylan Gym on a five-game losing streak and in the midst of a 1-11 free fall.
""We did beat them at their place,'' said Edwards. ""They're in a stretch where they need these wins to clinch a spot in the NEC Tournament. I feel like we relaxed and took them for granted.''
CSU senior center Gabriella, the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in Division I school history, punished the Hawks inside with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
But whereas CCSU turned the ball over 30 times in its first meeting with Monmouth, Monday night CCSU turned 23 Monmouth turnovers into 26 points.
""We weren't ready to start the game,'' said Michele Baxter, Monmouth coach. ""I don't know how else to put it.''
Before Monmouth could blink it was down 8-0 and then 27-7 only 13 minutes into the contest.
""We needed the game,'' said Guegbelet. ""We executed more and we played good defense tonight. And we played together.
""Our coaches tell us every day, "Every game you play you never quit." "
Monmouth didn't quit either. Sophomore Lakia Barber tried to ignite a rally and led the Hawks with 17 points, but Monmouth never seriously threatened.
Jimenez, who scored a career high 23 points Saturday, appeared to be affected by the face gear she received shortly before tip-off and scored five points. She had taken an accidental elbow to the nose late in Sunday's practice.
""She shot around with it (the mask) some in the warmups,'' said Baxter. ""But it's not the same (as in a game).''
Baxter was not sure whether Jimenez will be required to wear it again 7 p.m. Wednesday when Monmouth hosts Fairleigh Dickinson (9-16, 6-9).
e-mail tonygsports@aol.com.

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