Monmouth held off a stubborn Cornell squad Saturday in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, to win their first outright Midwest Conference title since 1990 with a 70-64 win over the Rams.
Led by Stephon Bobbitt’s 16 points off the bench, the Scots put four in double figures as the team hit key buckets and free throws in the final minutes to hang on for the win. A two-possession game for the entire second half, the Scots took the lead for good on a Justin Aluya bucket inside with 7:11 left to give the Scots a 52-50 lead. D.J. Swift canned a bucket on the next possession as the Scots eventually gained a five point edge on Justin Batterton’s 3-pointer with 3:09 to play to make it a 61-56 Monmouth lead.
The Rams stayed close, pulling within two at 64-62 on a pair of free throws with 1:41 remaining. Neither team found the net over the next minute, but the Scots added some cushion when Will Jones was fouled and sank both free throws with 18 seconds to play. Following two more Ram free throws, Paul Engo III regained the margin when he answered with a pair of throws and Bobbitt then iced the game with a pair of free throws on the next possession.
Aluya – who tied the record for blocks in a game with eight – finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds, joining Jones with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Engo III added 11 and Swift netted 10 points.
The Scots will host the Midwest Conference Tournament next Friday and Saturday to determine the league’s automatic entry into the NCAA Tournament. No. 2 seeded Ripon will face third seed St. Norbert in Friday’s 5 p.m. match. The league champion Scots will meet fourth seeded Lake Forest in the 7 p.m. contest. The winners will meet Saturday at 3 p.m. for the NCAA berth.