Robert Morris, Wagner’s Jonathan Williams shine on NEC Saturday

Thanks to finals week, it has been a fairly light week of Northeast Conference basketball. With four games on the docket today, it was the first time in seven days that more than two NEC teams played on the same day. Therefore, I felt it was appropriate to briefly breakdown each game on the second to last Saturday before Christmas.

Wagner 77, Coppin State 65
It took a career game from senior Jonathan Williams (33 points, 17 rebounds, 3 steals) just to push this non-conference battle into overtime. Coppin State, who according to KenPom came into the matchup as a 90% underdog, used Wagner’s aggressive defense to their advantage by getting to the charity stripe an astonishing 22 more times than Wagner in regulation. Once Williams was able to will his team into overtime, however, Wagner’s defense and Marcus Burton took over. Burton quickly hit two three-pointers in the extra frame, and left little drama late (other than the lights going out) at the Spiro Center. All together, Williams and Burton (17 points) combined to score nearly 65% of the Seahawks’ total points. A big-time upset was averted, and as I always like to say, a win is a win. Hopefully for Wagner’s sake, Latif Rivers will soon return from a knee injury to add a much-needed dimension to the offense. Defensively, though, the team is clicking quite nicely. Mario Moody was once again impressive off the ball, registering seven rebounds, three steals, and three blocks in only 22 minutes.

St. John’s 77, St. Francis 60
The problems¬†continued for Glenn Braica’s group, as the Terriers have fallen to 2-7 on the young season. Tabbed fifth in the NEC Coach’s Preseason Poll, St. Francis Brooklyn has really struggled in the backcourt and today was no exception, especially when faced with the superior athleticism of St. John’s. John shared his thoughts on the game here.

Loyola (MD) 79, Mount St. Mary’s 57
The Catholic in-state battle was over right after it started, as Jamion Christian witnessed the ugliest loss of his young career tonight in Baltimore. Loyola jumped out to a 33-11 lead, and never looked back, winning comfortably at home. The first half stats painted a brutally dim picture for the Mountaineers: seven field goals, eight turnovers, 15 personal fouls, and an awful shooting percentage of 24%. Even worse, the MAYHEM was anything but that, as the Mount secured their first steal of the game 35 minutes in. Kristijan Krajina was the lone bright spot for the Mount, scoring 14 points while corralling seven boards in only 15 minutes. Everyone else struggled mightily, including a player I recently praised, Rashad Whack. Even though a beat down like this never happens at a good time, I’m willing to bet Christian secretly preferred it happened now rather than during the conference season. Loyola continued its excellent non-conference run, pushing their record to 9-3. Erik Etherly, who was sidelined with a shoulder injury for five games, came back to contribute 16 points. Senior Robert Olsen tormented the Mount’s defense inside and out, with a game high 22 points.

Robert Morris 91, Duquesne 69
I saved the best for last. The Andy Toole and Jim Ferry reunion ended badly for the first year head coach of the Dukes, as Robert Morris cruised in the second half to win their fourth straight against Duquesne going away. After a close battle through one half, the Colonials were able to control the pace (something Toole couldn’t do against Ferry in last year’s NEC title game) and go on a decisive run. Velton Jones had one of his best games of the season with 22 points and six assists. Robert Morris’ defense forced 25 turnovers and made 51% of their shots, including 13 of 28 from behind the arc. The victory is the Colonials fourth straight and seventh overall and has them rolling into late December. Starting with their upset victory over Ohio, Toole’s squad has easily looked like the best team in the NEC. For what it’s worth, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi agrees, having pegged Robert Morris as a future 14 seed. That may be a tad bullish, but a road win over Arkansas later this month would certainly cement that future seeding.

Ryan Peters covers Northeast Conference men’s basketball for Big Apple Buckets and Pioneer Pride. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride

2 thoughts on “Robert Morris, Wagner’s Jonathan Williams shine on NEC Saturday

  1. I BELIEVE OFF THE EARLY NON CONFERENCE SCHEDULE TO DATE THAT JONATHAN
    WILLIAMS OF WAGNER COLLEGE SHOULD BE IN THE RUNNING FOR PLAYER OF THE
    YEAR IN THE NORTHEAST CONFERENCE.THIS BALLPLAYER IS ALL ABOUT WINNING
    GAMES. HE IS QUICK TO THE BASKET AS A SHOOTER WITH A VERY HIGH PERCENTAGE,
    HIS DEFENSIVE GAME IS EXCELLENT, REBOUNDING AROUND THE BASKET IN THE PAINT,
    HE’S REALLY TOUGH..HE CAN PLAY A MULTIPLE NUMBER OF POSITIONS BUT FOR NOW
    HE’S WAGNER’S MAIN INSIDE PRESENCE..I ONLY WISH WE HAD HIM FOR FOUR YEARS
    BUT I’LL HAVE TO SETTLE FOR TWO SEASONS AND MAYBE A CONFERENCE TITLE IF HE
    CAN GET SOME OUTSIDE SHOOTING IN THE SECOND HALF…

    Like

  2. John,
    I certainly agree with you in regards to Jonathan Williams. Right now, he’s definitely an All-NEC first teamer. I’d select Jalen Cannon of St. Francis Brooklyn as my early season NEC POY, but Williams would be in the discussion. Without his production, Wagner would probably have two fewer wins at this point in the season. He’s been tremendous as Wagner waits for Latif Rivers’ knee to get better. Thanks fort the comment!

    Like

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