The second to last Thursday of the NEC regular season had some fantastic finishes and did little to clean up the race to the NEC postseason. Let’s recap all of the action…
Quinnipiac 81, Sacred Heart 74
Quinnipiac continued their hot run by pulling away late to defeat the Pioneers for the first time in four tries, 81-74. The Bobcats outscored the Pioneers from the charity stripe, 25-5, while also earning a seven rebound edge on the glass. Throughout much of the game, Quinnipiac had to endure Shane Gibson’s heroics, who after scoring his 35th and 36th points with 8:58 remaining, was only five points shy of his career high of 41 points. Unfortunately for Big Red, Gibson was held scoreless the rest of the game, and his teammates were held to a measly four field goals in the final nine minutes. The offensive drought allowed Quinnipiac to finish on a 18-9 run and bring home their seventh victory in eight games. Tom Moore’s club was offensively balanced throughout with eight players scoring at least seven points. Shane Gibson, Louis Montes (17 points), and Phil Gaetano (10 assists) had noteworthy performance for SHU, but allowing 1.13 Bobcat points per possession was simply too much to overcome. After a 6-2 start, the Pioneers have nose-dived back to 0.500 at 7-7.
Mount St. Mary’s 83, LIU Brooklyn 71
In a blink of an eye, Mount St. Mary’s reeled off nine straight points – on back-to-back-to-back three pointers by Kelvin Parker and Rashad Whack – to earn an advantage midway through the second half they would not relinquish. Whack finished with a game high 26 points on six of ten shooting from behind the arc. In all, the Mountaineers shot 44% from long-range, and forced 20 Blackbird turnovers to give them yet another emphatic home victory over an upper tier NEC team. The Mount improved to 9-2 inside the friendly confines of Knott Arena. Jamal Olasewere had an off-night, finding himself in fouling trouble for much of the second half. He and Brickman uncharacteristically committed ten of LIU’s 20 turnovers. E.J. Reed did have a breakout game of sorts (25 points on 12 shots, nine rebounds, two steals) in the Blackbird’s fifth NEC defeat. For a full game recap by Ryan, go here.
St. Francis Brooklyn 76, Wagner 75
A Dre Calloway lay-up with 2.8 seconds left gave St. Francis Brooklyn a badly needed victory over their NYC rival. The victory pushes the Terriers up to the eighth spot in the NEC standings with a half game lead over Central Connecticut. For John’s full recap, go here.
St. Francis (PA) 69, Fairleigh Dickinson 63
Unbeknownst to some of you, there was a college basketball game played out in Loretto, PA, featuring two teams with a combined conference record of 5-23. To the Red Flash’s credit though, they won their second game in three attempts over the hapless FDU Knights. Anthony Ervin (seriously why hasn’t he been playing all season??) and Ben Millaud-Meunier impressively combined for 48 of St. Francis’ 69 points in the victory. The Red Flash were sloppy with the ball (20 turnovers), but drained ten of their 19 three-point attempts, while outscoring the Knights by seven points at the free throw line. As usual, Kinu Rochford was a beast for the Knights with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Currently, Rochford has the best efficiency rating in the conference, but he’s gotten little help from his teammates on both ends of the floor.
Bryant 88, Central Connecticut 67
After scoring the first basket of the game, the Blue Devils would never enjoy the lead the rest of the way, as Bryant smoked CCSU out of their gym, 88-67. Five Bulldogs scored in double figures, led by Dyami Starks’ 26 points and Alex Francis’ ultra-efficient 18 points (on ten shots) to go along with 11 rebounds. For Bryant, yesterday was the second best scoring performance in their conference season at 1.30 points per possession. For CCSU, Bryant’s free-flowing night offensively unfortunately illustrates the exhaustion experienced by the overworked Blue Devils. It was the fourth time in as many games that the Blue Devils gave up at least 1.12 points per possession. On a related note, CCSU is 0-4 in those games. In the loss, Kyle Vinales scored a team high 18 points, but he needed 20 shots to get there.
Robert Morris 77, Monmouth 65
Lucky Jones did his best Karvel Anderson impression by nailing six of seven from behind the arc, as the Colonials held off a desperate Monmouth club in Moon Township on Thursday night. Without Velton Jones once again, the Colonials found contributions from the aforementioned Lucky Jones (19 points) and Russell Johnson (20 points, seven rebounds). In addition, Karvel Anderson scored 14 points, including two critical three-pointers late to seal the victory. It wasn’t the most efficient Colonial effort with 20 turnovers, but they made 53% of their shots from the floor to pull through. Monmouth’s Stephen Spinella had his fourth excellent game in a row in a losing effort. The win clinched a playoff berth for Robert Morris and essentially ends the playoff chances for King Rice’s Hawks. You can find Colonial Corner’s recap here.
1) Robert Morris*, 11-4
2) Bryant, 10-4
3) LIU Brooklyn, 10-5
4) Quinnipiac, 9-5
5) Wagner, 9-6
6) Mount St. Mary’s, 8-7
7) Sacred Heart, 7-7
8) St. Francis Brooklyn, 7-8
9) Central Connecticut, 6-8
10) Monmouth Hawks, 5-10
11) St. Francis (PA), 4-11
12) Fairleigh Dickinson^, 3-12
*clinched NEC playoff berth
^eliminated from NEC playoff consideration