Monroe Community College, the no. 14 team in the country, will represent Region III in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II men's basketball district tournament next weekend after the top-seed in the regional tournament knocked off third seed (no. 19 nationally ranked) Genesee Community College in the Region III title game on Sunday, 79-74.
Genesee went back and forth with the host team to open the first half as Ervin Mitchell and Naquil Jones combined to score 18 of the first 22 points for the Cougars. With 7:40 to play in the half, Monroe took the first stretch-lead of the game at 28-22 and the Tribunes did not look back.
MCC held a lead as large as nine in the opening period and took an eight-point lead into halftime after the Tribunes converted on a last-second 3-point basket.
Monroe extended its lead in the second half to as much as 15 at the 8:40 mark when the Tribunes held a 63-47 advantage.
Genesee cut the deficit to single digits after Jones scored six in a row and got GCC to within 70-65 with 1:45 remaining.
A four-point play increased the Monroe lead back to nine with 1:22 left, but after a three-point play from Mitchell and two successful trips to the free-throw line (4-4) from Jones, the Cougars were down 76-72 with 11.6 seconds left.
Forced to foul, GCC put Monroe at the free-throw line and the Tribunes iced the game with late conversions.
Jones finished with a game high 33 points for Genesee and he also grabbed seven rebounds. Mitchell added 19 points and eight boards, Alastair Cole chipped in nine points and Da'Shawn Suber collected seven rebounds and dished out three assists.
Mitchell and Jones were both named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Cougars finish the season with a 23-8 overall record. Monroe will travel to Dean Community College next weekend for the district tournament and a trip to the NJCAA National Tournament on the line.