The NEC broke out of its shell and got some national attention on Wednesday night as FoxSports and ESPN3 carried both the St. Francis (PA) at Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary’s at Wagner games. While the Mount made things interesting down the stretch, both home teams managed to come away with wins by comfortable margins.
Wagner 74, Mount St. Mary’s 65: This was a fairly up-tempo game for Wagner and the wood on the court at the Spiro Center didn’t collapse and the world didn’t start spinning because the Seahawks got out in transition a little bit. Instead the 71-possession game led to a strong 1.04 points per possession and the defense wasn’t bad either at 0.92. The margin would’ve been wider, but MSM hit three of their nine threes on the night with fewer than 47 seconds remaining in the game while in desperation mode. Jonathon Williams led the way with 19 points for Wagner and Latif Rivers looked very comfortable in the open court and scored 17 points. After allowing Quinnipiac to destroy them on the boards, the Seahawks also managed to keep MSM off the offensive glass as they rebounded just 21% of their misses. Wagner didn’t do great on the offensive glass, grabbing 30%, thanks in part to playing an attacking zone for large portions of the game, but it was certainly good enough to get the victory. Bashir Mason’s rotation went nine deep and every player contributed. The Mount, which lost earlier this season to Wagner on Kenneth Ortiz’s last-second steal and layup, fell down early and couldn’t seem to find a rhythm offensively. They shot 9-30 from three. Rashad Whack scored 19 points after heating up in the second half and Kelvin Parker scored 15 points on nine shots in 25 minutes off the bench. Wagner’s next game, at Robert Morris, won’t be nearly as easy.
Robert Morris 60, St. Francis (PA) 48: Another slow, ugly, slug fest that RMU won. Ho hum. At least this team has an identity now. Velton Jones didn’t play in this one, but the offense still managed to score 1.02 points per possession. Most of that was due to the strong work by Lucky Jones and Karvel Anderson. Jones didn’t miss any shot he took on Wednesday night, going 3-3 from the field and 13-13 from the free throw line for 20 points. Anderson showed off his tendency towards left-handed pull ups as he shot 5-10 from the field and scored 17 points. One of the big pieces of news coming out of Moon Township tonight was that Mike McFadden was not with the team. There are reports that he’s quit the team. (Post-game comments made it sound temporary.) If that’s the case Andy Toole will have just two healthy players 6’7″ or taller. Stephan Hawkins took advantage of the situation and scored four points and had three blocks in 23 minutes of action. RMU definitely needs Jones back for Saturday’s game against Wagner. It appears Umar Shannon is still battling injuries, as when he was on the court the Red Flashes’ leader made some excellent plays to get them back into the game, but he only played 27 minutes. Shannon still led SFU with 12 points. Earl Brown played 37 minutes, but was mostly invisible on the interior.