The Monroe College Lady Mustangs are undefeated national basketball champions! On Saturday, March 18, the (36-0) Lady Mustangs beat Mohawk Valley Community College 100-70 in the 2006 NJCAA, Division III National Finals to win the college’s first-ever national championship in athletics. The Monroe men’s basketball team had reached the finals in 1998 and the women’s team was beaten in the finals last year.
"When you work on something all year and see it come through, it is one of the most rewarding things in life," a beaming Coach Seth Goodman said after the game. "And when you have players who understand how to play the game right, this is the result." The tournament was played in front of MVCC’s hometown fans in Utica, NY. But they were quieted early, as Monroe’s stifling defense kept the stunned (33-1) MVCC team from even getting a field goal for the first 7:16 of the game. By that time, Monroe led 18-2 and the game was essentially over.
In addition to their outstanding defense, Monroe’s attack featured picture-perfect offense as they set the tournament record with 34 assists in the game, breaking the record of 32, which they had set in the quarterfinals. With her game high 32 points, Monroe’s sensational sophomore forward Fantasia Goodwin tied the tournament record with 91 total points (set in 2002 by Molly Brothers of Suffolk-Selden).
Also, this season Goodwin rewrote the NJCAA, Division III record book. She finishes her career with 1,681 points, virtually obliterating the previous record of 1,456, which was set in 1995. She also now holds the record for points in a season (867), season scoring average (28.0), and career scoring average (27.1). In the fall, Goodwin will continue her college career at Syracuse University. After Monroe cut down the nets, Monroe College President Stephen Jerome congratulated the Lady Mustangs for more than their basketball prowess, "By shaking the hands of the MVCC players as they received their runner-up awards," he said, "our Lady Mustangs showed real class, which is the mark of a true champion."
Monroe’s Angela Speight, Angela Pace, and Sha-kia Hart were named to the All-tournament team, Goodwin was named Tournament MVP, and Goodman was named Coach of the Tournament.
This was the Lady Mustangs’ third consecutive appearance in the nationals. They came in as the number-one seed, after leading the NJCAA polls virtually all season. On Thursday night, in their 112-36 quarterfinal win over number-eight Gateway CC (Connecticut), Monroe set the tournament record for points. They advanced to the final with a 71-60 win over number-five Ridgewater College (Minnesota) in Friday’s semifinals. MVCC was the tournament’s number-three seed.