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Courtesy: Monmouth University Photo

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL RUNS PAST SPU, CLINCHES #5 SEED

Courtesy: Monmouth Sports Information
         
Release: February 28, 2016
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WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – Senior Jamiyah Bethune (Union, NJ/Union [Penn State]) had a game-high 16 points and five steals on Senior Day as the Monmouth University women’s basketball team cruised past Saint Peter’s, 71-52, Sunday afternoon at the Multipurpose Activity Center. With the win, the Hawks (13-16, 11-9 MAAC) clinched the No. 5 seed and a first-round bye in the MAAC Championships. Saint Peter’s dipped to 4-25 (2-18 MAAC) with its 14th-straight setback.

Monmouth, which won its fourth-straight game and sixth in its last seven, will face fourth-seeded Fairfield in the quarterfinals, Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at the Times-Union Center in Albany, NY. The Stags, Hawks and Manhattan all finished the year tied for fourth place in the league at 11-9. Fairfield’s 3-1 record against the Hawks and Jaspers gave them the tie-breaker, while Monmouth’s regular-season sweep of Manhattan secured the No. 5 seed. Manhattan settles for the No. 6 seed and a Thursday first-round tilt with No. 11 Saint Peter’s.

“We were hopeful that something special might happen and we could wind up getting a bye,” said Monmouth Head Coach Jenny Palmateer. “But we knew we just had to take care of ourselves and let the chips fall as they may. We did what we needed to do and we’re going to be able to benefit from that now.”

Bethune did her damage efficiently, making 5-of-8 field goals and all six of her free-throw attempts. Tyese Purvis (Queens, NY/Francis Lewis [Monroe C.C.]) also added 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, while Jasmine Walker (North Brunswick, NJ/North Brunswick) finished in double figures with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Sarah Olson (Freehold, NJ/Howell [NJIT]) scored eight points and dished out four assists, while Dana Carbone (Toms River, NJ/Monsignor Donovan), Christina Mitchell (Baltimore, MD/MATHS) and McKinzee Barker (Bomont, WV/Clay County) scored six points apiece. Danica Dragicevic (Belgrade, Serbia/XV Beogradska Gimnazija) also chipped in with five points. The Hawks outscored Saint Peter’s, 30-6, in the paint, 21-7 off turnovers and 10-0 on fast breaks.  

“I think we’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” said Palmateer. “We’re shooting the ball better than we have all season and I think our defensive intensity is really ramped up. So it’s a combination of a lot of things, but I really feel good about our senior leadership. And the people coming off the bench are doing their part. Everybody knows their role right now, has settled into it and they’re really doing it well.”

Saint Peter’s was led by Talah Hughes, Sajanna Bethea, Marcia Senatus and Bridget Whitfield with nine points apiece. Bethea also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots. Hala Mostafa contributed six points, four rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals.

The Hawks, who led from wire to wire, started the game on a 14-0 run, including five points from Dragicevic and four from Bethune. The closest Saint Peter’s would draw the rest of the way was to within eight on a pair of Mostafa free throws with 1:53 remaining in the first quarter. But Monmouth scored the final six points of the period and maintained a double-digit lead the remainder of the game.

The lead extended to 18 on consecutive Barker fast-break buckets to begin the second quarter. Monmouth would maintain a lead of between 13 and 18 points for the rest of the half. Bethune and Purvis led Monmouth with eight points apiece at the break, while Barker added six. Dragicevic and Olson also had five points each, with Olson also dishing out four assists. Hughes led Saint Peter’s with seven points, while Whitfield hit a pair of threes for six points. Monmouth outscored the Peacocks, 16-0 in the paint and 14-3 off turnovers in the first half.

Monmouth’s lead methodically grew to its largest point of 26 when Bethune connected on a fast-break lay-up off an Olson steal at the 3:07 mark of the fourth quarter. Saint Peter’s scored eight of the last nine points in the game to account for the 71-52 final score.

For the game, Monmouth outshot Saint Peter’s, 44.8 percent (26-58) to 30.8 percent (16-52) from the floor, including a 36.4 percent (8-22) to 25.0 percent (3-12) edge from long range. Saint Peter’s outshot Monmouth, 73.9 percent (17-23) to 61.1 percent (11-18) from the free-throw line and took a 37-34 advantage on the boards.
 
Prior to the game, Monmouth honored its six-member senior class of Bethune, Dragicevic, Jasmine McCall (Manalapan, NJ/Manalapan [Seton Hall]), Amanda Offenback (Delran, NJ/Holy Cross), Olson and Walker.  

“They’ve been together for a long time,” said Palmateer of her six-member senior class. “They love each other, they’ve had high goals going into the season and I think right now, they’re playing like they refuse to lose.”

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