By Gary Axelbank
BRONX, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 18- The Monroe Mustangs men's basketball team opened the annual Mustangs Winter Tip Off with gifts for America's Purple Heart heroes. And then they went out and painted the MAC (Monroe Athletic Complex) royal blue and gold, getting two wins. On Saturday they defeated Frederick CC (Frederick, MD) 88-50 and followed it up with a 77-66 defeat of Monroe CC (Rochester, NY) on Sunday. Monroe is now 4-0 on the season.
"Hustle and team play, that's what's going to do it for us this season," said Coach Jeff Brustad, "and that's what you saw this weekend. Lots of cogs were working on Saturday and then against MCC on Sunday, when we got down we didn't panic. Everyone chipped in and we fought back for the win."
Saturday was Veterans Appreciation Day at the MAC and the Mustangs held a stirring ceremony before their game honoring the Monroe chapter of the SVA (Student Veterans Association), the military order of the Purple Heart - Chapter 21, and veterans presently residing at the FDR facility in Montrose, NY. Each vet was introduced and then the Mustangs came onto the court and gave them gift bags of Mustangs souvenirs, individually thanking them for their sacrifice.
"We're glad we won the games, but we have no doubt who the real heroes were in the gym this weekend," said Coach Brustad. "It was our honor to be able to personally thank them."
In the game the Mustangs jumped out to a 17-0 lead right from the bat, led by 17 at the half, and never looked back. Jaelyn Johnson-Coston was on fire, shooting 7/9 from the field to amass his 16 points. Three other Mustangs were in double figures: Nehemias Morillo had 14, and Devin Martin and Arkeem Joseph had 10 each.
Sunday's game was more competitive as MCC took a 12-point lead (55-43) with 12:03 to go in the game, but the Mustangs chipped away and tied it at 65 on a couple of free throws by Martin with 3:14 left. Then three-pointers at the 2:55 mark by Carlos De Jesus and Morillo with 2:00 left gave Monroe a lead they would not relinquish.
Monroe's attack was balanced as Johnson, Morillo, and freshman Thomas Rivera tallied 11 points each. Martin had 10.
The Mustangs have added a game to their schedule. They'll play at home against the Canaries Basketball Academy this Wednesday at 5:00pm at the MAC.
Tags: Monroe College, Basketball, Veterans