Mount St. Mary’s 55, St. Francis Brooklyn 47: Shooting Woes

We recently documented the plight of Tom Moore and his offensive struggles at Quinnipiac last season, specifically the inability to shoot the ball. Well, Glenn Braica could definitely empathize with his St. Francis Brooklyn squad this season.

Unfortunately for the Terriers, just two years removed from an NEC regular season title (and one game away from removing its name forever from the “Cursed Five” teams that have never made the NCAA Tournament), are 4-17 and losers of six straight NEC games after a 55-47 loss to Mount St. Mary’s at the Pope Center Saturday.

As it turned out, the latest defeat was a pretty good microcosm of their season. They battled against the current NEC leaders and were in the game almost until the final buzzer. But they just couldn’t score, at least not consistently enough. The final numbers were ugly: 0.76 points per possession, 33.3% (14-42) shooting on two-pointers. That’s how St. Francis Brooklyn was able to hold The Mount to 0.89 ppp and lose by eight at home.

The season numbers might be ever more gruesome for Braica and the Terriers: 349th in offensive efficiency (ahead of only Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alabama St., although Robert Morris is 348th), 347th in eFG% (41.5%), 349th in two-point shooting (39.7%), 331st in assist to field goal ratio. All the being young, scrappy, and hungry is not going to make up for those numbers, and so St. Francis Brooklyn stares at missing the NEC Tournament with a 2-6 conference mark.

Is there time to fix it? Sure, in fact, you can make a case that it can’t get much worse. In five of their six latest losses, they’ve been well below 1.00 ppp. Freshmen Rasheem Dunn (who led the Terriers with 12 points Saturday) and Robert Montgomery have shown some improvement, and are trying desperately to help guards Glenn Sanabria (3-13 FG Saturday, shooting 32.4% from inside the arc on the season) and Yunus Hopkinson (4-12 FG Saturday, 30.1% from inside the arc).

They also hope to get Gunnar Olafsson back soon after missing the last two games, and freshman Gianni Ford scored 7 points on 3-7 shooting in 20 minutes. But FDU and Wagner await next week, and time is quickly going to run out if it doesn’t get better soon, no matter how well the defense is playing.

What else did we learn in Brooklyn Heights Saturday?:

1) Mount rising

Mount St. Mary’s is just one point (loss to Bryant) away from being 8-0 in the NEC after a 2-11 non-conference campaign, and some of St. Francis Brooklyn’s struggles were because of The Mount’s defense. Believe it or not, The Mount is only sixth in defensive efficiency in NEC play, and only fifth in forcing turnovers, but they helped those numbers Saturday, and are still holding off Saint Francis U. and FDU for offensive supremacy.

The Mount (9-12, 7-1) turned the ball over 17 times (27.4%), but Justin Robinson and Miles Wilson (Elijah Long had an off day) did what the Terrier guards could not: finish near the rim.

2) Chris Wray rim protector

You probably know about Wray’s late-game heroics against George Mason, LIU Brooklyn, and Wagner, but he’s a bit of an enigma, shooting a robust 58.4% from the field, but just 36.1% (22-61) from the foul line. He also has a very high block percentage (6.1% in conference play after posting a 6.7% mark last season) and offensive rebounding rate (12.0%, 13.5% last season), both key factors in The Mount’s offense. (He’s capable of massive dunks when given the chance, see below.) Jamion Christian would probably like him to improve on his 14.5% defensive rebounding rate (The Mount is only 342nd in that category nationally), but he’ll take 7-1 in the league as we approach the halfway mark.

3) Little early for anyone to panic

Even with the frustrations St. Francis Brooklyn have had on the offensive end, they are still only one game behind a trio of teams (Bryant, Sacred Heart, and Robert Morris) for sixth in the NEC, and a win or two could cure all their ills, even if they haven’t shown much of an ability to do much this season. As we’ve established several times this season, the NEC is not terribly strong this season (comparatively), and it’s not like the Terriers are getting blown out every night.

As for The Mount, it’s a little early to worry about winning the regular season title (FDU won to remain tied with them at the top of the NEC, but LIU Brooklyn lost to Wagner). However, they are now three games clear of fourth and fifth, meaning they can see a little daylight in at least hostin an NEC quarterfinal. And a trip to Emmitsburg is not one that anyone in the NEC will be looking forward to as the calendar turns to March.