There were only four games on the docket in the sixth Thursday of the NEC season, as the favorites dominated the action. Let’s go through each game and break down the standings.
Sacred Heart 77, Fairleigh Dickinson 70
Shane Gibson scored 18 of his game high 25 points in the second half, as the Pioneers held on for a tighter than anticipated victory over Greg Vetrone’s hapless Knights. After trailing all night, a Trevor Charles (12 points, five rebounds, two blocks) bucket in the lane gave FDU their first lead of the game. It was short-lived however, as SHU settled down late and shot 49% from the floor. A desperate Vetrone brought seniors Kinu Rochford and Lonnie Robinson off the bench in an attempt to find a spark, but it was the same old story for the defensively challenged Knights, who have now lost seven NEC games in a row. Melquan Bolding was his usual productive self, scoring 16 points to go along with ten rebounds and three steals. But FDU couldn’t overcome a 4 of 14 performance from behind the arc and gave up 1.07 points per possession. Along with Gibson, Steve Glowiak and Louis Montes also scored in double digits for Dave Bike’s squad, who now has a record of 7-4 in the NEC.
Quinnipiac 79, Monmouth 63
If you didn’t know already, the season has basically spiraled completely out of control for King Rice’s Hawks, who have been defeated for the eighth time this season in the NEC. Monmouth’s offense was their usual stagnant self (39.6% from the field, seven assists against ten turnovers), but it was their defense tonight that led to a comfortable Quinnipiac lead of 41-30 at the half. After one stanza, the Bobcats shot an incredible 69.2% from the floor and dished out 12 assists versus only two turnovers. In the end, Ike Azotam and Shaq Shannon led Quinnipiac with 18 point apiece, while Evan Conti filled up the box score with 11 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one block. With the victory, Quinnipiac is better than 0.500 in the NEC for the first time all season as they head into a critical road matchup versus Central Connecticut on Sunday. Freshman Tyrone O’Garro had perhaps the best game of his young career tonight, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds. Sadly, the rest of the season may serve as an audition for next year as the Hawks slip deeper into the bottom tier of the conference.
LIU Brooklyn 81, Central Connecticut 75
In a significant showdown between two upper tier conference teams, it was the Blackbirds who held on for a six point victory to move to 7-4 in the NEC. Jamal Olasewere was sensational – what else is new – with 25 points on 13 shots and 14 rebounds. C.J. Garner, Brandon Thompson, and E.J. Reed all scored in double figures for the victorious Blackbirds, who have now won seven of their last eight games. LIU’s 1.13 points scored per possession was impressive, but it was their defense that perhaps won the game. CCSU only mustered 0.97 points per possession against the usually defensively inept Blackbirds, as Kyle Vinales, Adonis Burbage, and Malcolm McMillan combined to make 10 of 36 shots in a lousy shooting performance. Matthew Hunter was the star for Howie Dickenman’s team, registering 25 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, and three blocks, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a -10 differential on the boards and -7% deficit in shooting percentage.
Bryant 84, St. Francis Brooklyn 77
It was another typical performance from the Bulldogs: The big four of Bryant (Alex Francis, Frankie Dobbs, Dyami Starks, and Corey Maynard) combined to score 72 of the Bulldogs 84 points, Bryant shot 53% from the floor, and handed out 19 dimes to only eight turnovers. For St. Francis, it was their worst defensive effort of the conference season with Bryant scoring 1.23 points per possession. Despite the porous defensive effort, the Terriers actually held a 67-65 lead with less than seven minutes remaining in the game. Down the stretch though, St. Francis had no answer for Starks and Francis, who scored 15 of the Bulldogs’ final 17 points. One stat that’ll surely leave Glenn Braica shaking his head was his team’s free throw percentage. The Terriers missed six out of 14 free throw attempts while Bryant only missed two out of 17 charity stripe tries. Jalen Cannon led St. Francis with 13 points, nine rebounds, and three assists in the setback. It doesn’t get any easier for the 5-6 Terriers, as they’ll host LIU Brooklyn on Sunday before embarking on a New Jersey road trip that will serve as a two must win games.
1) Bryant Bulldogs, 9-2
2) Robert Morris, 8-3
3) Wagner Seahawks, 7-4
4) Sacred Heart Pioneers, 7-4
5) LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds, 7-4
6) Quinnipiac Bobcats, 6-5
7) Central Connecticut, 6-5
8) St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers, 5-6
9) Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, 4-7
10) Monmouth Hawks, 3-8
11) Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, 2-9
12) St. Francis Red Flash, 2-9