Half of the NEC was in action on Wednesday night, so let’s recap each contest. In all, it was a mostly disappointing evening for the league with four teams failing to come out victorious.
Bryant 87, Dartmouth 77
Let’s begin with the good news. Bryant recovered nicely from their drubbing out west to Gonzaga by handling the Green Wave on the road. Dartmouth, behind the efforts of all-league talent Gabas Maldunas (14 points, 11 rebounds), managed to keep the game close before succumbing late. Dyami Starks scored 35 points once again, this time on a very efficient 18 shots. In fact, all of the Bulldogs were tremendously efficient in this one, posting a splendid scoring line of 59% FG%/43% 3PT%/82% FT%. Bryant’s superb shooting allowed them to overcome 15 turnovers. The big four of Starks, Alex Francis, Joe O’Shea, and Corey Maynard combined to impressively score 79 of their 89 points.
Holy Cross 122, Sacred Heart 118
After a wild, back-and-forth affair in Worcester, Holy Cross held on after ten minutes of free basketball to earn their first win of the season over Anthony Latina’s Pioneers. This will be a cruel bus ride back for Sacred Heart – they had a seemingly commanding five point lead late before a three-point play by Dave Dudzinski evened the score with just three seconds left in regulation. In the end, Cullen Hamilton’s 35 points on 21 shots and Dudzinski’s interior presence (26 points, 15 rebounds, 2 blocks) was enough to outlast the feisty Pioneers. Sacred Heart imposed their will for much of the game – attacking the rim, pushing the pace (there were 192 total possessions in the game), and forcing careless errors out of the Crusaders. In spite of this, Holy Cross found a way to win their third straight against their New England rivals. Evan Kelley was excellent in the loss, scoring a career high 32 points. His final efficiency rating of 33 was the best individual performance for an NEC player this young season. Steve Glowiak was also terrific, scoring 28 points by sinking seven out of nine three-pointers.
Villanova 90, Mount St. Mary’s 59
It may be against two teams from the power conferences, yet Jamion Christian can’t be pleased with his team’s effort early in the season, especially defensively. Tonight, the Mount gave up 1.22 points per possession (ppp) after allowing West Virginia to score 1.27 ppp on opening night. Really, it was an ugly effort in Philadephia any way you slice it – Villanova shot 63% from the floor, won the rebounding margin by 15, had 11 more assists, and outscored the Mount 60-16 in the paint. Ouch. Julian Norfleet has been the only glimmer of hope thus far, as he led the team tonight with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. Rashad Whack and Sam Prescott have been ice-cold early on; both guards have combined to miss 30 of 41 shots in two games.
Purdue 103, Central Connecticut 73
If you were expecting an encore to LIU Brooklyn’s terrific effort last night in Indiana, then you came away disappointed. After jumping out to an early 17-14 lead thanks to Faronte Drakeford’s eight points, CCSU was shutdown for the next 5:17. The prolonged slump allowed Purdue to extend their lead to double digits and they never looked back. The Boilermakers scored 1.36 ppp, which was buoyed by 22 assists versus a mere nine turnovers. For the second straight game, Kyle Vinales led the Blue Devils in scoring with 22 points, but it was acquired by jacking up 21 attempts. This time, however, Vinales was afforded more rest; in fact, nine Blue Devils logged 14+ minutes in the game. Of the bench guys, freshman Matt Mobley was quite active with 10 points and four rebounds in limited time.
Dayton 70, St. Francis (PA) 57
It’s been a tough stretch for Rob Krimmel’s Red Flash. Tonight was their third game in six days, although St. Francis didn’t appear tired throughout much of the contest. Dayton was only up three at the under four minute timeout for the second half, but a 13-2 run sealed the deal for the Flyers. Four Red Flash players – Earl Brown, Ronnie Drinnon, Ollie Jackson, and Malik Harmon – finished in double figures for the night. 17 turnovers inevitably did St. Francis in, with three of those coming in the final three minutes. Dayton sank almost as many free throws (21) as they did field goals (23) in the victory.
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