NEC Roundup – February 20

After another exciting night of NEC hoops, the standings are really starting to take shape with LIU Brooklyn and Sacred Heart needing a miracle to qualify for the postseason tourney. Here’s another NEC roundup of the action from the second to last Thursday of the regular season.

Wagner 74, Sacred Heart 62

After leading throughout much of the first half, Sacred Heart, a heavy underdog who had dropped nine straight contests coming in, fell behind for good after a 10-3 Wagner run closed out the first half. Louis Montes did all he could with a game high 27 points on 9 of 18 shooting, but it wasn’t nearly enough for a Pioneer squad that could only muster 0.91 points per possession. Thanks to Wagner’s interior defense – they had seven blocks in the contest led by Naofall Fohalan’s four rejections – the Pioneers made 36.4% of their twos. They were equally as putrid from behind the arc, converting on 29.4% of their 17 three-point attempts.

Marcus Burton came of the bench to lead Bashir Mason’s Seahawks with an efficient 19 points. Three others – Latif Rivers, Orlando Parker and Kenny Ortiz – also scored in double figures, while freshman Nolan Long dominated the glass with a career high nine rebounds (and likely reminding Sacred Heart at how close they were to landing him as a recruit last offseason). As a team, Wagner out-rebounded the smaller and less athletic Pioneers 45-35, leading to a 19-11 scoring edge in second chance points. Now victors of four straight contests, Wagner finds themselves in a second place tie with Bryant in the NEC standings.

Mount St. Mary’s 87, Central Connecticut 76

What a tale of two halves for Mount St. Mary’s! In the first half, the slow and sloppy Mountaineers shot 35.1% from the floor, hit only two three-point attempts and allowed the more energetic Blue Devils to convert on 6 of 11 from behind the arc. Despite the 15-point halftime deficit AND Julian Norfleet saddled with foul trouble throughout the second half, the stoic Mountaineers outscored CCSU 57-31 in the second frame to suddenly halt the Blue Devils momentum.

Rashad Whack was terrific on both ends of the floor for Jamion Christian’s group, registering 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in the victory. His on-the-ball defense opposite of Kyle Vinales, who came in averaging more than 19 ppg in his last three games, was excellent as he held Vinales to eight points on 3 of 13 shooting. Taylor Danaher nearly tallied a double double (17 points, eight rebounds) and is really coming into his own lately. The sophomore is averaging 14 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in his past three games.

After sinking 19 of 34 shots in the first half, CCSU struggled against the Mount pressure, shooting 37% in the process. They were consistently outworked on the glass as evident by a -12 rebounding margin, thanks in large part to Danaher, Gregory Graves (nine points, seven rebounds) and Sam Prescott’s work (19 points, eight rebounds) on the backboards. With the victory, the fourth place Mountaineers control their own destiny in regards to a home playoff game in the first round of the NEC playoffs.

Robert Morris 73, LIU Brooklyn 64

If RMU was going to lose in Moon Township during NEC play this would’ve been the moment. Stephan Hawkins was injured early in the first half (ankle/foot, no return) and the Colonials were down to just seven players. The Blackbirds had jumped out to a 10-point halftime lead. Andy Toole’s team could’ve folded. Of course, they didn’t. LIU extended the lead to as many as 16 points at 46-30 on Glenn Feidanga’s free throw with 17:11 remaining. But by the time 3:39 remained on the clock Karvel Anderson’s layup had tied the game. The Colonials salted away the victory with tough play down the stretch.

The Blackbirds bunched their points up at certain points of the game, but RMU held them to 18 points over the final 17 minutes and that was enough to get LIU down to 1.00 points per possession (64 points in 64 possessions). LIU only had five offensive rebounds and committed 12 turnovers, so while the Blackbirds outshot RMU with an effective field goal percentage of 56% versus 49% the extra possessions (mostly in free throws) made the difference. Karvel Anderson bolstered his NEC Player of the Year credentials with 26 points on 8-10 shooting, including 5-5 from three. How you give Anderson enough space to shoot 5-5 from three is beyond me.

The victory clinched RMU at least a share of first place and the Colonials’ 9th-straight winning season. They’re now 12-1 in league play! (Which is quite surprising.) The Blackbirds are now in big trouble for qualifying for the NEC tournament. They desperately need a victory in Loretto, PA on Saturday. Maybe E.J. Reed will be able to play more than 12 minutes? He was in constant foul trouble and finished with just six points. Jason Brickman had 11 points and eight assists for LIU.

Fairleigh Dickinson 63, Bryant 52

Aside from an ugly loss at Ohio State earlier this season, Bryant shot a season worst 29.7% and scored a mind-numbing 0.79 ppp as FDU handed the Bulldogs their second conference home defeat of the season (Robert Morris was the other). Alex Francis struggled mightily with only seven points on 1 of 8 shooting from the floor. Dyami Starks wasn’t much better as he could only compile 16 points after jacking up 21 shots.

Mostafaa Jones led the Knights with 19 points thanks to a 5 of 9 performance from behind the arc; in fact, it was the first time in nearly a month that someone not named Sidney Sanders, Jr. led FDU in scoring for a game. Sanders still had a splendid game nevertheless, chipping in with 15 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. FDU didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight, but they did make a season high 13 three-pointers (Jones and Mathias Seilund combined to hit nine of those), dwarfing Bryant’s total of five rainmakers. The victory gave the Knights a little distance on ninth place LIU Brooklyn, who now stand two games back of FDU and CCSU for the final two playoff spots.

St. Francis Brooklyn 73, Saint Francis (PA) 44

These teams came in even 6-6 in the NEC, but the Terriers dominated the proceedings from the get go. This was a 23-point game at halftime. Basically SFC took out all the frustration of its suspensions and missed opportunities out on the Red Flash. Glenn Braica’s team shot 10-19 from three (53%), including 4-7 for Ben Mockford and 3-4 for Aleksandar Isailovic. Mockford led SFC with 16 points. In his second game back from suspension Brent Jones scored six points, but had 11 assists and five rebounds.

The Red Flash shot 4-16 from three. If that happens Saint Francis doesn’t stand a chance. The lineup is designed to get good shots. Of course the 12-32 (38%) that SFU shot from two-point range wasn’t particularly impressive either. The Red Flash also committed 17 turnovers.

This sets up a huge game for the Terriers on Saturday when they take on Robert Morris at the Sewall Center. A win could reaffirm the Terriers as a serious threat for the NEC’s NCAA bid.

NEC Player of the Night – Karvel Anderson, Robert Morris (26 points, 8-10 shooting, 5-5 from three, 4 rebounds)

NEC Standings Through February 20
1) Robert Morris, 12-1
2) Wagner, 8-4*
3) Bryant, 8-4
4) Mount St. Mary’s, 7-5
5) St. Francis Brooklyn, 7-6
6) Saint Francis (PA), 6-7
7) Fairleigh Dickinson, 5-7
8) Central Connecticut, 5-8
9) LIU Brooklyn, 3-9
10) Sacred Heart, 1-11
*Wagner owns H2H tiebreaker over Bryant (1-0)

4 thoughts on “NEC Roundup – February 20

  1. I believe that both Wagner and the Mount control their destinies for the two seed but Bryant does not. In Wagner’s case, I guess they actually have a very outside chance at the one seed.

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  2. This was Revenge of the Three Night for FDU. When Bryant came to FDU they shot a Blistering 64% from 3 point land. Tonight FDU shot 59% from 3 point land at Bryant. The key to the game was Alex Francis rare poor performance. FDU did a great job in shortening the game in the 2nd half( last 6-7 possessions held the ball for at least 30 seconds thus preventing Bryants high powered offense from breaking out. FDU hitting their shots and getting set in their 1/2 Court defense also did alot in slowing down Bryant. Mustafa Jones has been terrific in the last three games. Sydney Sanders seemed extra slow today because of his heal injury, but still had an effective game. Mathias Seilund broke out of his slump finally. FDU still needs an Inside game from its big men. It now looks like the NEC Playoffs is getting closer for FDU after so many years of coming in last place in the NEC.

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    1. The NEC playoffs certainly are close for FDU! Also, where has the Bryant offense gone? The last two games the Bulldogs have scored under 0.90 points per possession, which hadn’t happened all season. Are they slowing down at the end of the year again?

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  3. Every NEC game from here on in is a must-win for the Terriers. Getting a home playoff game is crucial for SFC if they hope to advance in the post-season.

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