ND-Fairfield holds off Kolbe Cathedral
BRIDGEPORT — The second time around, Kolbe Cathedral did pretty much everything it wanted to do against undefeated Notre Dame-Fairfield.
The Crusaders matched the Lancers’ energy and intensity at both ends of the floor from the opening tip until the final buzzer. They did their best defensively to keep ND’s big three — Tyler Bourne, Josh Reaves and Noreaga Davis — in check and they were just a couple of big plays from knocking off the best team in the SWC.
But despite tying up Bourne, Reaves and Davis as best they could, Kolbe could not stop Notre Dame’s unsung hero, Woodley Monnexant. The 6-foot-2 senior guard scored 16 points — nine coming in a crucial third quarter — and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Lancers held off a furious Kolbe charge to capture a 78-70 victory before a raucous sold out crowd at the University of Bridgeport’s Harvey Hubbell gym.
“Wood … he’s a great player. He always plays hard,” Davis said. “Ever since his freshman year, he’s been playing hard for us and we love having him on the team. I love his energy.”
In the first meeting between the two teams a week ago — an 85-61 ND romp — Bourne had 27 and Davis and Reaves each had 21 as the Lancers took a 10-point halftime lead and rolled. This time, however, while Bourne matched his 27 points, Davis and Reaves were held to 12 apiece as Kolbe stayed close throughout.
Leading 41-39 entering the third quarter, Notre Dame scored 21 points, led by Monnexant’s nine points and seven rebounds (four offensive), to take a 60-53 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
“We understand that we have to start hitting the boards and guys were taking it upon themselves to listen to the coaches and get to the glass, looking to rebound because they know that there’s an easy two points waiting there if they hit the boards,” ND-Fairfield coach Chris Watts said. “Woodley has really taken to that. He’s rebounding above the rim and that makes it hard for the opponents to get there.”
“They have a lot of guys, as we do too, that can step up and (Monnexant) stepped up at the right time for them,” Kolbe coach John Pfohl said. “Give them credit for that. The kid was good.”
As far as stepping up, Kolbe’s Anthony Senior scored 19 points to lead the Crusaders. Quinton Sneed-Lott, Naz Vereen and Kyle Federici added 10 apiece.
“They focused on getting the ball to Senior a lot,” Watts said. “They did it in spots last game, but tonight they really worked on getting him the ball because the kid can flat out shoot. He’s a great player, great athlete. He’s a competitor and Kolbe was really hungry tonight. It makes for a good game.”
Kolbe came out charging and led 17-15 after the first quarter. However, Bourne scored 12 points in the second quarter and dropped in two free throws before the start of the third quarter — thanks to a halftime technical on Pfohl — ND to take a 41-39 lead. That’s when Monnexant put together a solid third quarter to put the Lancers in command.
“They’re a good team. Kolbe came to play tonight. I’ll give it to them. They came to play tonight,” Davis said. “And they tried to match our energy. They’re a good team and we just had to match them. Like I said, will power, show our heart.”
Still, Kolbe battled and trailing 68-65 with two minutes to play, Vereen was called for an offensive foul, negating a basket that would have cut the deficit to one.
“You know what, that’s the game,” Pfohl said. “Sometimes the ball bounces in and sometimes it doesn’t. You try and make your own breaks but some of those balls just fell out. What are you going to do?”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Notre Dame’s Woodley Monnexant. The senior guard scored nine of his 16 points in the third quarter and also totaled 15 rebounds as ND remained undefeated.
“For us, we just want to keep improving and tonight we did. I’m really pleased with the kids’ effort tonight, they played hard and as a coach, how can you not be happy? — Kolbe coach John Pfohl
“Tonight, it was all about will power. We had to show our heart tonight. A lot of shots weren’t falling for us and we had to hit the boards. Tonight, it was about will power.” — ND senior Noreaga Davis
KOLBE CATHEDRAL 70
ND-FAIRFIELD (17-0, 10-0 SWC)
Damion Medwinter 1 7-8 9, Dylan Wade 0 0-0 0, Woodley Monnexant 5 6-8 16, Mubarach Soulemane 0 0-0 0, Micah Brantley 0 0-0 0, Noreaga Davis 6 0-0 12, Rodney Medor 0 0-0 0; Josh Reaves 5 2-4 12, Stone Appleberg 0 0-0 0, Tyler Bourne 8 8-10 27, Phillip Conner 1 0-0 2. Totals: 26 23-30 78
KOLBE CATHEDRAL (13-4, 8-2)
Naz Vereen 4 1-2 10, Kyle Federici 4 2-2 10, Demetrius Gordon 2 1-2 5, Anthony Senior 5 6-7 19, Quinton Sneed-Lott 4 2-2 10, Evan Coleman 3 0-0 9, Taeshaun Sanchez 2 0-0 5, Justin Leigh 1 0-0 2, Brandon Gadsden 0 0-0 0, Daniel Washington 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 12-15 70
ND-FAIRFIELD15 24 21 18 — 78
KOLBE CATHEDRAL17 22 14 17 — 70
3-point goals: ND-F — Bourne 3; K — Vereen, Senior 3, Coleman 3, Sanchez.