We are now entering the fourth week of NEC play and, well the parity one through eight has yet to show itself. Nevertheless, there were some intriguing battles on Thursday night – allow us to break down all the action.
Saint Francis U. 75, Bryant 61
Bryant came into tonight’s contest with the best offensive efficiency in the NEC, yet poor efforts from Bosko Kostur (3 points, 1-12 FG), Adam Grant (8 points, 3-12 FG) and Nisre Zouzoua (16 points on 18 shots) doomed the Bulldogs in Loretto, PA. The Red Flash won their fourth game against the current bottom half of the league thanks in large part to Keith Braxton and Jamaal King.
Braxton and King each had 21 points and 8 rebounds, while Josh Nebo was his normal disruptive self with 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. The Red Flash impressively converted 23 of 36 attempts from inside the arc, which helped after a putrid 4 of 24 performance from long distance. It also helped that the Bulldogs shot 20.0% from 3 and committed twice as many turnovers (17) than assists (8).
Bryant must head to Robert Morris to stop a 3-game losing streak, whereas Saint Francis U will host Central Connecticut, a team they’ve beaten 5 of the last 6 times.
Mount St. Mary’s 86, Sacred Heart 75
Despite a feverish push by Sacred Heart in the second half, including a wild 19-0 run, the Mount held on thanks to a wonderful first 20 minutes and timely scoring late. The road victory – their third in four tries this conference season – pushes the Mount to their greatest start in NEC play at 6-1. Elijah Long continued his splendid play with a team high 19 points, including 10 points in the final 7:08 of the contest. The sophomore is sizzling with averages of 16.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 7.7 apg and 3 spg over his past 3 games. Junior Robinson was very efficient with 17 points on just 7 shots, while freshman Miles Wilson also logged 17 points. Chris Wray was a beast on the boards with 13 rebounds.
The Mount has now scored at least 1.00 ppp in 6 of their first 7 conference games. When hitting that mark, the team is 7-2 and 1-10 when they fail to reach 1.00 ppp.
Quincy McKnight played well for the Pioneers, scoring 26 points, his 11th game this season when scoring 20 or more points. Cha Cha Tucker, who possesses the best assist rate during NEC play, struggled against the Mount pressure with 3 assists against 5 turnovers. When Tucker doesn’t register at least 5 assists in the game , the Pioneers are 1-8 on the season.
LIU Brooklyn 76, Wagner 69
Wagner won the battle in the paint, but hot shooting in the first half and clutch plays from freshman point guard Jashaun Agosto led LIU Brooklyn to its sixth straight NEC victory.
After trailing by eight at halftime, Wagner battled back by pounding the glass (an offensive rebounding percentage of 42% to LIU’s 31%) and scoring in the paint (38-22). Each time though Agosto was there to parry the blows for the Blackbirds. He scored 19 points on 7-11 shooting from the field and had four assists and four turnovers in 38 minutes.
“He’s calming for everybody,” LIU head coach Jack Perri said about Agosto. “He controls the game. He defends. He never gets tired. So we’re really fortunate to have him and he was huge.”
Eventually though Wagner did tie the game on a basket by Mike Aaman, who scored 13 points in only 16 minutes due to foul trouble. It was Jerome Frink that carried the Blackbirds down the stretch. The senior forward scored on two straight post ups and then blocked Aaman to basically seal the victory. Frink finished with 15 points, seven boards, four assists and three blocks in 37 minutes.
Corey Henson had a strong game for the Seahawks. He scored 17 points and had six assists versus just three turnovers. Connor Ferrell also added 10 points. Michael Carey picked up his second foul with 12:27 to go in the first half and never really got into the game. He finished with just six points on 2-7 shooting in 26 minutes. Foul trouble was a huge problem overall for the Seahawks, who had four starters on the bench at times during the first half due to foul issues. Wagner is now 3-4 in the NEC, but has been in every game this season. Still, head coach Bashir Mason doesn’t want moral victories.
“We’re close because they’re coached to play hard every single day, but you’ve got to play smart and then you’ve got to make plays to win these types of games. Right now we’re not making the plays to win these types of games. There’s no moral victory or happy to be close,” Mason said. “A loss by one or a loss by 20 is the same thing.”
Iverson Fleming struggled a bit for LIU. He scored 10 points on 3-9 shooting, but went just 3-6 from the free throw line and committed seven turnovers. His defense in the backcourt though was quite good. Raul Frias and Raiquan Clark each scored nine for LIU. Frias shot 3-4 from 3, and hit all three of his triples in the first half.
“That’s what we’ve been looking for, some consistency with him,” Perri said about Frias’s shooting. “He hasn’t let the lack of playing time get to him. [His outside shooting] helps out a lot.”
The Blackbirds defended quite well overall. Wagner scored 1.01 points per possession (69 points in 68 possessions) in the loss. That level of defense is usually enough considering the talent the Blackbirds have on offense. -John
Robert Morris 74, Central Connecticut 67
Robert Morris may have been without their leading scorer, Isaiah Still, and their best weapon off the bench, Billy Giles, yet they were able to score 1.16 ppp and thwart the visiting Blue Devils. Tonight, in fact, was the Colonials best offensive effort of the season. Kavon Stewart tied a season high with 21 points to go along with 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Matty McConnell continues to head in the right direction after a miserable first half of the season – he’s now scored at least 12 points in each of his last 3 games while shooting 42.8% from behind the arc.
The Colonials led for the entire game, although the Blue Devils kept the game within striking distance throughout. Austin Nehls played well with 22 points – his best output since December 21 at Fordham – yet the rest of the team could only muster one 3-pointer and they coughed up the ball a staggering 30.8% of the time (20 turnovers). Freshman Chris Williams, at least, was a pleasant surprise off Donyell Marshall’s bench with 8 points in 11 minutes of play.
With the win, Robert Morris avoided losing 5 of 6 NEC games – it would’ve been the first time this occurred in the Andy Toole era. CCSU has dropped 13 straight and 13 of their last 14 conference games.
Fairleigh Dickinson 57, St. Francis Brooklyn 40
For the first time since the 2004-05 season, Fairleigh Dickinson is 6-1 in NEC play after a resounding beat down of the visiting Terriers. The Knights took advantage of a gimpy Glenn Sanabria and an undermanned frontcourt by holding St. Francis Brooklyn to 25.5% shooting and 0.60 ppp. Both marks represent season highs for the FDU defense, who also forced 19 Terrier turnovers.
Without Earl Potts for the second straight game, FDU was inefficient offensively, yet resourceful enough to keep the game out of their opponent’s reach. Greg Herenda’s group jumped out to a 18-4 run to start the game and never looked back. Darian Anderson and Stephen Jiggetts each struggled with 21 points on 24 shots, yet they did combine for 14 rebounds. It was oddly the third straight game where the normally potent FDU offense failed to score more than 1.00 ppp.
The Terriers are in a tailspin, having dropped their last 5 NEC contests by an average of 12.6 points. Yunus Hopkinson and Gianni Ford led the hapless Terriers, tying with a team high 10 points. Unfortunately for Glenn Braica, the St. Francis frontcourt combined to score just 8 points on 3 of 10 shooting. Conversely, FDU’s big man trio of Mike Holloway, Kalib Bishop and Nadi Behiri poured in 28 points.
NEC Team of the Day
LIU Brooklyn – It took some late game heroics from Jerome Frink and 14 second half points by freshman Jashaun Agosto to hold off the Seahawks, yet a win is a win. The Blackbirds now are 6-1 for the first time since the 2011-2012 season, a campaign where they made their second straight NCAA tournament appearance.
NEC Player of the Day
Elijah Long, Mount St. Mary’s – Long continues to shine in league play, this time with an all-around performance that came through in the clutch. It was Long’s play down the stretch that was pivotal to the Mount holding off the hard charging Pioneers.
- Mount St. Mary’s, 6-1
- Fairleigh Dickinson, 6-1
- LIU Brooklyn, 6-1
- Saint Francis U, 4-3
- Wagner, 3-4
- Robert Morris, 3-4
- Sacred Heart, 3-4
- St. Francis Brooklyn, 2-5
- Bryant, 2-5
- Central Connecticut, 0-7
Next On the NEC Schedule (1/21)
- Central Connecticut at Saint Francis U, 3 pm
- Wagner at Sacred Heart, 3:30 pm
- Bryant at Robert Morris, 4 pm
- LIU Brooklyn at Fairleigh Dickinson, 4 pm
- Mount St. Mary’s at St. Francis Brooklyn, 4 pm