Then there were three. In the second night of NEC play three teams remained undefeated after the first weekend thanks to big Monday victories.
Saint Francis U. 66, Robert Morris 59
This result was expected given how the two teams have performed this season and the fact that the game was played in Loretto, PA, but the Red Flash hadn’t beaten the Colonials in the past 14 games the two teams had played against each other. Four players scored in double figures for SFU led by Ronnie Drinnon’s 19 points and eight rebounds. Earl Brown added 14 points, five rebounds, four assist and four steals for a great all-around performance.
The Colonials scored 0.91 points per possession (59 points in 65 possessions), with Marcquise Reed leading the way with 22 points on 8-9 shooting and 6-6 from the free throw line. Lucky Jones had 12 rebounds, but shot 2-9 from the field and only scored four points.
St. Francis Brooklyn 63, Bryant 47
In a game where St. Francis led wire-to-wire, the Terriers shut down the NEC’s leading scorer in Dyami Starks and Bryant couldn’t figure out a way to score without their senior star. The Bulldogs scored just 0.78 points per possession as Starks shot 2-10 from the field and scored five points. This was Bryant’s second worse performance from the field all season — the Bulldogs scored just 0.70 points per possession in their non-conference loss at Vermont earlier this season.
After being injured earlier in the season, Amdy Fall looks fully healthy and had 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Jalen Cannon struggled a bit from the field for the Terriers. He went 2-7 and scored eight points, but Tyreek Jewell (15 points) and Brent Jones (13 points) provided the complements to Fall on the offensive end. St. Francis continued their dominance on the glass, out rebounding Bryant’s young front court, 36 to 24.
Ray Curren has even more on this game, and Amdy Fall’s performance, in his three thoughts.
Fairleigh Dickinson 75, LIU Brooklyn 69
Three seasons ago FDU won only two games during the entire NEC season! Monday night they equaled that threshold with their second straight road victory. Greg Herenda has the Knights rolling, especially Darian Anderson. The standout freshman scored 26 points — including 21 in the first half — on 10-12 shooting from the field and grabbed six rebounds. He was supported by Mustafaa Jones, who scored 19 points on 3-6 shooting from three. FDU scored 1.04 points per possession.
LIU was led by Gerrell Martin scored 23 points, including 8-11 from the free throw line. Joel Hernandez came off the bench and scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Blackbirds. After trailing for most of the contest, the Blackbirds took the lead, 65-62, on a three-pointer by Martin with 4:24 remaining, but FDU came back to capture the lead and salted away the victory. The win sets up a big showdown on Thursday in Teaneck, NJ between SFC and FDU for first place in the NEC.
Ray Curren did the Brooklyn double-dip last night and had three thoughts on this game as well.
Wagner 85, Mount St. Mary’s 83
The Seahawks earned their first victory in more than a month when they stunned the Mountaineers in a double overtime thriller after trailing by as many as 15 points in regulation. Truthfully, the game should have never reached the 41st minute, yet Junior Robinson (19 points) coughed up the ball with a three-point lead, allowing freshman Romone Saunders to drain a three-pointer with five ticks remaining. To the Mount’s credit, they found themselves up two points late in the first overtime session, but then Chris Martin bricked two free throws, allowing Marcus Burton to hit a lay-up with six seconds left to send the game into a second overtime. From there, Burton continued his dominance and finished with a career high 38 points.
In the evenly matched contest, Wagner extracted 21 Mount turnovers (24% turnover rate) and held their opponents to just 6 of 23 shooting from beyond the arc. Gregory Graves was terrific for the Mount with 26 points and 13 rebounds, while Byron Ashe returned from his benching to play well (13 points, 5-7 shooting). Jamion Christian’s team has now lost four in a row heading into their home showdown with CCSU.
Sacred Heart 75, Central Connecticut 66
Junior Tevin Falzon had the night of his basketball life, registering the third double-double of his career with 23 points (on just 12 shots), 13 rebounds and five blocks – all career highs – to guide Sacred Heart to their first victory in conference play. The Pioneers raced out to a 20-point advantage deep into the first half, but Matt Mobley did his best to keep the Blue Devils competitive throughout. His game-high 32 points accounted for nearly half of CCSU’s scoring, but 0.87 ppp and 38% shooting from the floor wasn’t enough in tonight’s fast paced affair (152 possessions). Thanks mainly to Falzon and the struggles of CCSU’s Faronte Drakeford (two points, 10 rebounds, 0-7 shooting), the Pioneers enjoyed a +13 margin on the backboards and a 14-point edge (34-20) inside the paint. Three other Pioneers scored in double figures along with Falzon, with rookie Cane Broome helping out with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
NEC Players of the Day
Tevin Falzon, Sacred Heart – With several players earning an efficiency rating above 20 this evening (Amdy Fall, Marcquise Reed, Darian Anderson, Gregory Graves), rewarding Falzon with this honor wasn’t a sure thing. But the power forward was a man among boys tonight, dominating the paint with his rebounding and rim protection. He registered a ridiculous efficiency rating of 32, the second highest mark of any NEC individual performance versus a Division I program this season.
Marcus Burton, Wagner – The highest efficiency rating of the season now belongs to Burton, whose 38 points on 13 of 24 shooting literally willed the Seahawks to a much-needed victory at the Spiro Center. The senior scored 10 of Wagner’s 17 points in both overtimes.
NEC Performance of the Day
Saint Francis University – Here we go again. After winning our Performance of the Day award for Jan. 3 slate of game, the Red Flash are right back here with their home victory over Robert Morris, snapping their 14-game losing streak to their in-state rivals in the process. It wasn’t picture perfect from start to finish, but SFU played enough defense to push themselves to 8-5 on the season. The Red Flash didn’t earn their eighth victory of last season until Feb. 15.
1) Saint Francis U, 2-0
2) Fairleigh Dickinson, 2-0
3) St. Francis Brooklyn, 2-0
4) Bryant, 1-1
5) Robert Morris, 1-1
6) Sacred Heart, 1-1
7) Wagner, 1-1
8) LIU Brooklyn, 0-2
9) Mount St. Mary’s, 0-2
10) Central Connecticut, 0-2
Next Up on the NEC Schedule
Sacred Heart at LIU Brooklyn, 7 PM
Central Connecticut at Mount St. Mary’s, 7 PM
St. Francis Brooklyn at Fairleigh Dickinson, 7 PM
Saint Francis University at Bryant, 7 PM
Robert Morris at Wagner, 7 PM
*All games are on Thursday, January 8