Monmouth clinched their second Midwest Conference Tournament berth in four years and moved into sole possession of the league lead with a 77-67 win over Cornell Wednesday night in Glennie Gym.
The Scots were in command most of the night, but found themselves leading by just two, 32-30 at halftime. Paul Engo III gave Monmouth a quick boost at the start of the second half, scoring a bucket-and one, then scoring on the next possession to give Monmouth a 39-33 lead three minutes into the final half. Monmouth gradually pulled away, coaxing a double digit lead on an Engo free throw with 5:11 to play. Justin Aluya’s dunk a minute later gave the Scots a 12-point lead – their biggest of the night – at 70-58. Monmouth held the Rams to just two buckets in the final 2:32 to move into the driver’s seat in the MWC.
Monmouth gained sole possession of the league lead when St. Norbert defeated Lake Forest – which had been tied with the Scots entering Wednesday’s play – 71-40 to drop the Foresters into a three-way tie for second with the Green Knights and Ripon which defeated Lawrence 82-53.
The Scots will host Lawrence for Senior Day Saturday at 1 p.m. in Glennie Gym.
Monmouth held league-leading Cornell to just 14-of-52 from the field and nearly upset the Rams before falling 51-45 in Glennie Gym.
The Scots never trailed by more than eight points and took the lead for the first time on Allie Meyers’ layup with 5:13 to play in the fourth quarter. A Keri Dodson bucket-and-one on the next possession gave Monmouth a 41-37 lead. The Rams answered with their own free throws with just under four minutes remaining and regained the lead on a Tal Neilly 3-pointer to make it 42-41 with 2:43 to play. Another Nielly three made it a two possession game a minute later as Monmouth was forced to foul in the final minute. Cornell held off the Scots by making three free throws in the final 22 seconds.
Monmouth will host Lawrence Saturday at 3 p.m. for the Scots’ Senior Day.