ROCHESTER - Wes Nelson Jr. hit the go-ahead free throw with 5.3 seconds remaining, and the Monroe defense clamped down on the final possession to give the Tribunes a 67-66 win over Erie Community College in a Western New York Athletic Conference battle Saturday afternoon.
The Kats had one last possession, but Majesty Brandon got his hand on the ball as Kasey Walker-Gregg attempted to drive to the hoop. The ball bounced away as time expired.
With the win, MCC (12-2 WNYAC, 21-5 overall) clinches the top seed and the right to host the Region III, Division II tournament in two weeks. The Tribunes wrap up the regular season at home against Jamestown next Wednesday.
The teams battled back and forth down the stretch. Tied at 60 with under four minutes remaining, MCC's Omari Brown was fouled heading to the basket. The freshman knocked down both free throws for a two-point lead.
Walker-Gregg tied it with his own two foul shots with 2:22 left. The teams then traded missed 3's before Brandon sliced through the lane for a layup to put MCC up 64-62 with 1:21 left.
Walker-Gregg drove for a layup on the ensuing possession to tie it with less than a minute left. But Brandon had the answer again for Monroe, getting to the rim to lay it in for a 66-64 lead with 39 ticks left.
After an Erie timeout, Kat guard Michael Motley followed his own miss with a putback to knot it at 66. MCC chose not to call a timeout, and Nelson was fouled as he pulled up to attempt a 15-footer with five seconds left. Nelson missed the first freebie but hit the second for a one-point lead.
After an ECC timeout, Walker-Gregg drove the length of the floor, but Brandon was there for the strip to secure the Monroe victory.
Gilberto Cue hit a pair of early 3's for MCC, but was forced from the game with an ankle injury.