Saturday in the NEC helped Robert Morris separate itself a little more from the pack, but the Colonials have a big game coming up against Bryant. Here’s the full rundown of what happened in the league.
Saint Francis (PA) 68, Sacred Heart 66
The Pioneers lost their fourth straight and came up empty on their annual PA trip when they dropped a tight contest to Saint Francis (PA) on Saturday afternoon. Earl Brown led the Red Flash with 16 points – 12 coming in the second half – while corralling a game high nine rebounds, one rebound shy of collecting his NEC leading ninth double double of the season. The three-point shot kept Rob Krimmel’s club afloat in the first half (6 of 12) and allowed his team to hang in despite a quick start by the Pioneers. On the back of Chris Evans, the aggressive Pioneers attacked the rim early on, eventually building up a 27-18 advantage. It was the largest lead Sacred Heart would own for the game. From there, Sacred Heart began to miss easy opportunities at the rim, and their combination of zone and man-to-man began to soften, with Saint Francis taking full advantage. The Red Flash closed the first half on a 13-4 run, building up a one point advantage heading into the locker room.
In the second stanza, Brown took over, along with fellow forward Ronnie Drinnon, who chipped in with 11 points. Ben Millaud-Meunier, who’s had a tough season shooting 32.6% from behind the arc, impressively scored 13 points on five shots. In all, the Red Flash outshot the Pioneers 51% to 37%, while making 62.7% (17 of 27) of their two-pointers. The Pioneers inability to defend (especially in the paint) was enough to negate only five turnovers committed and a positive rebounding margin of +7. In the defeat, freshman De’von Barnett had a nice game, tallying 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Sacred Heart falls to 1-5 in the NEC for the first time since the 2004-05 season. They finished that season with an unsightly 4-23 record.
Bryant 83, St. Francis Brooklyn 79
Despite trailing most of the first half and being in severe foul trouble through most of the second half, Bryant hung on to defeat St. Francis, improving to 5-1 in the NEC. After Alex Francis (19 points, 12 rebounds) fouled out with more than four minutes remaining, Dyami Starks simply took over, scoring nine points in the final three minutes. Overall, the NEC’s leading scorer registered a game high 31 points on 14 shots. As a team, it was a rather poor shooting performance for Bryant (44.0% FG, 26.7% 3PT), yet the Bulldogs slashing, aggressive style led to 35 made free-throws. The Terriers, on the other hand, missed 15 of their 32 free-throw attempts (53.1%). They came into today’s contest making 70.0% of their shots at the charity stripe.
Brent Jones had a career high 20 points along with five rebounds and two assists, although Jones was one of the few Terriers who had an efficient day shooting the basketball. Ben Mockford and Anthony White also scored in double digits for St. Francis, but they needed 31 shots to produce 30 points combined. The shooting woes continued as the Terriers made just 42% of their twos in their second straight defeat.
Robert Morris 74, Wagner 70
In one of the more entertaining games of the early conference season, Robert Morris remained undefeated in league play by holding off a deeper Wagner team in Moon Township. Karvel Anderson guided the Colonials with 21 points, and along with Anthony Myers-Pate, Lucky Jones, and Charles Oliver, the foursome drained more than half of their three-point attempts (10 of 17). The shorthanded Colonials took care of the basketball against the normally pesky Seahawks, committing merely eight turnovers.
Wagner, who oddly played only eight guys this afternoon, threatened to pull away early in the second half, after an Orlando Parker layup extended their lead to 45-38. Robert Morris came right back, however, scoring 24 points in their next 13 possessions to regain a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Mario Moody and Naofall Folahan were excellent in the low block for Bashir Mason, with both combining for 29 points, 20 rebounds and five blocks, yet it wasn’t enough for a team that only scored 0.97 ppp against the Colonials’ zone. Since blowing out CCSU and LIU Brooklyn in the first week, Wagner hasn’t had an above average offensive output for the young conference season. They fall to 3-3 in the NEC, a full three games behind first place Robert Morris and two behind Bryant.
LIU Brooklyn 75, Mount St. Mary’s 70
LIU scored 44 points in the paint and out-rebounded Mount St. Mary’s by six in capturing an important home victory to stay in the NEC race. Julian Norfleet hit two late threes, but struggled, shooting 3-10 from the field and scoring eight points. Rashad Whack was also 3-10 from the field and Sam Prescott shot just 4-14. The poor shooting performance cost the Mount a chance at an important road sweep for the weekend. With 12 assists LIU point guard Jason Brickman crossed 900 for his career and also scored 14 points. You can read even more about that game here.
Fairleigh Dickinson 86, Central Connecticut 73
FDU jumped out to a 15-point lead and coasted during the second half as the Blue Devils were unable to ever get the lead into single digits during the final 20 minutes. Mathias Seilund scored 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots for the Knights, who have to be one of the biggest surprises in the NEC at 4-2. Sidney Sanders made only four shots from the field, but still scored 12 points, dished out 10 assists, and grabbed five steals in 29 minutes. Kyle Pearson also came off the bench to score 12 points for the second game in a row. FDU hit nine threes in the game. Securing this win was made even more important due to the fact that the Knights now go on the road for four straight games. They’ll play at Mount St. Mary’s, Saint Francis (PA), Wagner and Central Connecticut in the next two weeks.
Kyle Vinales was once again unavailable for the Blue Devils and while Faronte Drakeford scored 20 points on 6-15 shooting, CCSU couldn’t match FDU’s firepower from beyond the arc, where they were outscored 27-9. Matt Mobley added 15 points and Malcolm McMillan 14 points. Without the high usage Vinales absorbing possessions players have been pushed into more difficult roles. Against Wagner they seemed to embrace them, especially Mobley, but things didn’t go nearly as well in Teaneack, NJ.
Player of the Day – Dyami Starks (31 points, his 5th 30-point game of the season)
Milestone of the Day – Jason Brickman (900 career assists, which puts him in some rare company)
NEC Standings Through Jan 25
1) Robert Morris, 6-0
2) Bryant, 5-1
3) Fairleigh Dickinson, 4-2
4) Mount St. Mary’s, 3-3
5) Wagner, 3-3
6) St. Francis Brooklyn, 3-3
7) Saint Francis (PA), 2-4
8) LIU Brooklyn, 2-4
9) Central Connecticut, 1-5
10) Sacred Heart, 1-5