NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — The Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball team built its success around its defense this season.
But the Hawks had no defense for what Monroe (N.Y.) College had in store for them on Saturday.
The Mustangs connected for 13 3-pointers, including six in their first eight baskets of the game, to coast to an 88-55 victory over HCC in the NJCAA District 3 final.
The victory gave No. 3-ranked Monroe (30-3) a berth to its third consecutive national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., where the Mustangs finished third last year.
For the No. 14-ranked Hawks (28-5), it was another national tournament near-miss. HCC lost to the Mustangs 79-78 in overtime in last year’s district final.
The Hawks started the game on even footing, but the Mustangs quickly pulled the rug out from under them.
HCC used two quick, early hoops to take a 4-3 lead, but from there, Monroe unloaded a 19-2 run to assume a 22-6 lead and never looked back. Marco Bourgault and Davon Marshall each hit three 3s in the opening 10 minutes, shooting over the top of the Hawks’ defense, to establish the advantage.
The Hawks had trouble scoring to keep up with Monroe in the first half, as they hit just 8 of 31 shots (26 percent) in the first 20 minutes, including 1 of 10 behind the arc.
After their opening two baskets, HCC failed to score consecutive baskets the rest of the first half and trailed 43-18 at the intermission.
The Mustangs were 9 of 13 from long range (69 percent) — with four each by Marshall and Bourgault — in the first half and hit 17 of 29 shots overall (58 percent) to establish a strong foothold.
Monroe continued to extend the lead, using 3s to move to a 70-32 advantage with 9:51 remaining. HCC came back with an eight-point run, led by four points by Ray Watson, to get within 70-40. It was the closest the Hawks would get the rest of the game.
The only bright spot for the Hawks was Devin Miller, who came alive in the second half. The sophomore hit four 3s in the second half to finish with a game-high 24 points. He was the only HCC player to reach double figures. Antonio Jenifer finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
Monroe was led by Marshall’s 21 points, including five 3s, while Bourgault added 15, all on 3s. Center Orlando Sanchez finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Monroe 88, HCC 55
HAGERSTOWN COM. COLLEGE (28-5)
Womack 4, Carter 5, Chisholm 7, Miller 24, Jenifer 7, Boyd 2, Watson 6. Totals 21-72 6-11 55.
MONROE COLLEGE (30-3)
Bourgault 15, Ferguson 9, Marshall 21, Thomas 4, Eaddy 6, Banks 4, Ndour 12, Abdul-Bassit 5, Sanchez 15. Totals 33-66 9-9 88.
Halftime — Monroe 43, HCC 18. 3-point goals — HCC 7-31 (Miller 5-11, Carter 1-3, Chisholm 1-5, Watson 0-3, Womack 0-3, Tarver 0-2, Jenifer 0-2, Pittman 0-1, Pyatt 0-1), Monroe 13-23 (Bourgault 5-9, Marshall 5-6, Ferguson 1-3, Ndour 1-3, Abdul-Bassit 1-1, Thomas 0-1). Rebounds — HCC 36 (Jenifer 7), Monroe 48 (Sanchez 11), Assists — HCC 5 (Womack, Carter 2), Monroe 24 (Ferguson 9). Turnovers — HCC 15, Monroe 18. A — 983.