NEW ROCHELLE, NY — After their third tournament split at the 2014 Monroe Invitational this weekend, the Monroe Mustangs women’s basketball team finds itself with a 3-3 record, a far cry from the .781 all-time winning percentage listed in the recently-released 2014-15 Monroe Mustangs Media Guide. But, after a rough 66-55 loss to Monroe CC on Saturday and a 87-79 win over Harford on Sunday, Coach James Robinson, Jr. said not to worry, the challenging start is not a surprise.
“We played hard and that’s what’s important,” the coach said. “Every year it seems that we go through some adversity early, but that’s why the schedule is put together this way so we can find our true identity. I think that Monroe will be proud of this team in the long run.”
That long run for Monroe would be their twelfth-straight trip to the National Tournament, a remarkable achievement. But there’s a lot of ball to be played before then.
Much like this weekend, the start of the season brought up-and-down weekend trips to North Carolina and Ohio. In NC in the season openers, they played well against Brunswick (a 94-52 win), but shot horribly (21%) the next day and lost to long-time rival Louisburg (a 72-58 loss). In Ohio a weelk later, they defeated Macomb (77-53), but on Sunday lost to host Owens (76-69).
The trend was reversed at the Invitational at the MAC this weekend as Monroe was defeated by Monroe CC on Saturday and turned around to get a Sunday win over Harford.
In that one, Monroe had a seven-point lead at the half and extended it to fourteen six-minutes into the second half. But they let the Owls back into it and had to claw their way through the final seven minutes of the game
“Tough games at home are what we want,” Coach Robinson said, “because we want to get comfortable in our own building.”
One Mustang who seems a lot more comfortable with the ball in her hands this season is sophomore Karen Bellamy. She was a role player last year, but now a new-found starter who has gotten to play some big minutes during crunch time.
“It was all about getting Karen to calm down and listen,” Coach Rob said, “But she’s done that. She’s practicing real hard now and so I’m not surprised that she’s playing better. Her hard practices are turning into games and she’s brought it in. She’s definitely an emerging player for us.”
Bellamy had 19 points on 6/12 shooting against Harford.