The conference season is almost halfway over, so it’s time to breakdown all of the action for January 24!
Mount St. Mary’s 52, Saint Francis U 40
In what turned out to be a slow, methodical contest (56 possessions per team), Mount St. Mary’s did a far better job executing in the half-court to outlast the visiting Red Flash. It wasn’t the most perfect replica of Mount Mayhem – SFU only had seven turnovers and 20 three-point attempts — but there was tremendous balance with seven players making at least two field goals from the floor. Only Junior Robinson reached double-digits in scoring (10) for the Mount, while red-shirt freshman Charles Glover got the start and had six points, three assists and two rebounds in 29 minutes, all career highs.
In addition to the balance, Mount St. Mary’s held the Red Flash to just two made three-pointers, easily a season low for the veteran squad. In fact, when SFU fails to make at least 35% of their threes in a game, the Red Flash are 0-9 for the season. When the opposite occurs, SFU hasn’t lost any of their games (10-0).
After making four of their first eight shots, the Red Flash shot just 27% (13-48) the rest of the way. This was the third straight game, and loss, they’ve failed to hit the 1.00 ppp mark and only the second time all season where they scored 40 points or less in a contest. At the very least, Malik Harmon came back from two putrid efforts to score a team high 15 points without committing a turnover. Earl Brown grabbed a game high 13 rebounds and registered his 24th career double double.
Sacred Heart 83, Bryant 66
In what turned out to be the upset of the day, Sacred Heart came in and dominated Bryant from start to finish to earn their first NEC road victory since last February, while snapping their opponent’s five game winning streak inside the conference in the process. This was the Bulldogs’ third game in five days, and it showed with tired legs, as Tim O’Shea’s team shot 38% from the floor and were outrebounded by nine caroms. The Pioneers’ Tevin Falzon led the interior dominance with a fantastic line of 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks. Freshman Cane Broome was also excellent, scoring 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting. All together, the Pioneers made 56% of their shot attempts and are now 8-4 this season when their effective field goal percentage hits 50% or better.
Joe O’Shea, who was on an absolute tear in conference play with 15.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg and a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio coming in, struggled with just six points. The rest of his teammates didn’t help out much, with the exception of Daniel Garvin who scored a team high, and career high, 20 points to go along with 13 rebounds. Garvin’s effort wasn’t enough to offset a horrendous defensive effort that allowed Anthony Latina’s squad to register 1.40 ppp. Now part of a three-way tie for first place, Bryant must embark on a brutal four game stretch, which includes road games at SFU, Robert Morris, Pittsburgh (yes the ACC team) before finally returning to Smithfield to battle Mount St. Mary’s.
Central Connecticut 53, Wagner 50
CCSU’s winless drought in conference play emphatically ended last night, with one of the most unlikely buzzer beaters ever seen. (For more details and the actual video, I highly recommend Ray Curran’s recap.) Brandon Peel, who came in with one career three-pointer, drained his second career triple at the buzzer after receiving a three-quarters of the court length pass with 1.3 ticks left on the clock. Peel’s game winner followed Marcus Burton’s game tying desperation heave immediately prior.
Before the marvelous, wonderfully clutch shot making, the NEC TV showcase was a defensive slugfest, with neither team able to score with any consistency. Despite controlling a majority of the second half, Bashir Mason’s team really struggled to score — as evident in their 333rd ranked offensive efficiency — allowing the perpetually short-handed Blue Devils to stay in the game. Wagner made just 37% of their shots from inside the arc, even though CCSU has allowed opponents to shoot 55% from there in conference play. Burton led the Seahawks with 19 points, although he needed 19 shots to get there. Greg Senat grabbed a career high 15 rebounds and was a big reason for Wagner’s positive rebounding margin of +7.
In addition to hitting the dramatic buzzer beater, Peel was fantastic overall with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore guards Matt Mobley and Khalen Cumberlander also chipped in with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Perhaps realizing his starters have been beaten down for most of the season, Howie Dickenman employed a nine man rotation for the first time in conference play, extending critical rest to his main contributors of Peel, Mobley, Cumberlander and Faronte Drakeford. The Blue Devils victory snapped their 10 game losing streak and keeps them within two games of seventh place in the NEC.
Robert Morris 67, St. Francis Brooklyn 65
Lucky Jones go-ahead three-pointer in the final 20 seconds was the difference as the Colonials edged SFC in Brooklyn to move into a three-way tie for first place in the NEC. Jones was an efficient 5 of 9 from the floor with a team high 15 points, although his status will be unknown heading into next week with a foot/ankle injury. The victory was Andy Toole’s 100th career win, in just his fifth season of leading the Colonials.
Jalen Cannon registered his 11th double double of the season (21 points, 16 rebounds) in the loss, but it wasn’t enough as Amdy Fall missed two critical shots in the final minute to doom the Terriers. For extended coverage of this matchup, John Templon had several thoughts on the Colonials’ win.
LIU Brooklyn 80, Fairleigh Dickinson 76
The struggles continue for Greg Herenda’s Knights as they dropped their sixth straight at the Rothman Center to the young Blackbirds. Martin Hermannsson had the game of his career on Saturday, registering 21 points (on six shots!), four rebounds, four assists and five steals! The Icelandic freshman scored 18 of his 21 in the second half. He, along with Gerrell Martin, combined to net 38 of the Blackbirds’ 80 points and were key in LIU’s efficient offensive attack (1.06 ppp).
The Blackbirds once again got off to a fast start in this one (25-12), but unlike their two previous games, Jack Perri’s group held on down the stretch to snap their two game losing streak. A Joel Hernandez (nine points, seven rebounds) rebound and slam in the final minute sealed the deal as the Knights were making their final charge.
Fouling continues to plague Herenda’s group, as the Knights sent their opponents to the line a staggering 45 times. Had LIU been more efficient at the charity stripe — they shot 64% — this game wouldn’t have been as close. This was the first time in six contests where the Knights out-rebounded their opponents – in the previous five games, FDU had an average rebounding margin of -13.6. For the ninth time this season, Mostafaa Jones led his team in scoring, this time with 21 points on 12 shots. Xavier Harris had another strong effort with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Player of the Day
Brandon Peel, Central Connecticut – Sure why not! 17 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks and a game-winner to boot is obviously deserving of this honor. Saturday evening was Peel’s fifth double double of the season and the seventh time the junior post an efficiency rating north of 20. He may not get there because of his team’s misfortune, but Peel is absolutely deserving of an all-conference third team honor at season’s end.
Performance of the Day
Sacred Heart – Back to back Performance of the Day honors for the Pios! Bryant came into their home game as a 75% favorite, but Latina’s club never gave their opponents a chance to believe in the second half. Only twice in that second stanza did the Bulldogs get the game to within two possessions, which is fairly stunning given Bryant’s 16-8 home record the past two seasons. KenPom certainly agreed; the Pioneers ranking went up 28 points after the victory.
1) Saint Francis Brooklyn, 6-2
2) Bryant, 6-2
3) Robert Morris, 6-2
4) Mount St. Mary’s, 5-3
5) Saint Francis U, 4-4
6) Wagner, 4-4
7) LIU Brooklyn, 3-5
8) Sacred Heart, 3-5
9) Fairleigh Dickinson, 2-6
10) Central Connecticut, 1-7
Next Up on the NEC Schedule
Bryant at Saint Francis U, 7 PM
Sacred Heart at Wagner, 7 PM
Central Connecticut at LIU Brooklyn, 7 PM
Mount St. Mary’s at St. Francis Brooklyn, 7 PM
Fairleigh Dickinson at Robert Morris, 7 PM
*All games are on Thursday, January 29