DANVILLE, Illinois - Facing elimination and engaged in a tight affair with MCC-Penn Valley, the Monroe Community College men's basketball team picked the perfect time to catch fire.
Clinging to a one-point lead with a little over six minutes remaining, the Tribunes proceeded to hit their final nine shots to pull away for an 81-68 victory in the consolation bracket of the NJCAA Division II national championship.
Monroe will face either Kansas City Kansas CC or Cecil College at 2 p.m. Friday.
The Tribunes led 56-55 when their incredible run started. Romaine Thomas hit a 3 to make it a four-point game, and after a Penn Valley bucket, Izaha Jackson connected from long distance to make it 62-57 with 5:05 left.
After a Scout basket cut the lead to 62-59, Monroe rattled off the next 13 points to take command. Thomas finished an alley-oop from ShaQuan Bretoux, and Jackson followed with a 3 and a jumper.
Bretoux and Jackson then added back-to-back 3's to make it 75-59 with 1:23 left. A Thomas flush and four points from Dykweil Bryan closed out the scoring for Monroe down the stretch.
The Tribunes totaled 50 points in the second half after leading 31-25 at the break. Jackson scored all 11 of his points in the final 5:05 of the game, and Thomas and Darwin Trotman both scored 10 in the second half.
Thomas led Monroe with 17 points on the day and Bretoux added 14. Trotman was 6-for-6 from the field and finished with 12. Isaiah Davis also hit double figures with 11.