NEC Recap January 4: Game Number Two

League play is now coming fast and furious, so let’s dive right into the NEC action from Monday evening!

Saint Francis U. 84, Sacred Heart 80
The Red Flash moved to 2-0 in the NEC after a standout second half pushed Rob Krimmel’s team to victory. Krimmel, in fact, is now 5-1 versus Sacred Heart in his head coaching career, whereas Anthony Latina has yet to win a game against the Red Flash (0-4).

Sacred Heart held a slim margin early in the second half before Ben Millaud-Meunier hit back-to-back-to-back threes within the span of two minutes, extending SFU’s advantage to six points. Sacred Heart would cut the deficit back to one, but a 16-4 run gave the Red Flash enough cushion to withstand a furious Pioneer rally at the end. Millaud-Meunier outscored Sacred Heart from behind the arc (15-12) and finished with a team high 24 points. Five Red Flash players reached double digit points, with senior Greg Brown scoring 19 on just 10 shot attempts. Their efficiency shooting the basketball (52.9%, 1.11 points per possession) was enough to offset 18 turnovers.

For Sacred Heart, Cane Broome has now scored 25 points or more in four straight games, while shooting 46.5% (31-65) and collecting 23 rebounds during that time frame. He poured in a game high 29 points—the sixth time this season he’s cracked the 25-point barrier—while Tevin Falzon was solid off the bench with 13 points on 5-7 shooting. The Pioneers made 53% of their twos, but didn’t do enough damage from the three-point line. Red Flash opponents are currently shooting just 30.3% from behind the arc this season.

Wagner 72, Robert Morris 69
Wagner now has more road victories this season (3) than they had all of last season (2) after knocking off the Colonials to split the usually intimidating Pennsylvania trip. Wagner’s gain is Robert Morris’ loss, though, as Andy Toole’s group is 0-2 in league play for only the second time since 2007.

The Seahawks were dominant on the glass, posting a rebounding margin of +20. The advantage down low led to 21 second chance points and allowed Bashir Mason’s squad to scored 1.09 points per possession despite shooting just 40.4% from the floor. It was Ramone Saunders and Mike Aaman who unexpectedly paced Wagner’s scoring with 17 and 14 points, respectively. Saunders made three of Wagner’s seven threes in the game. Corey Henson also chipped in with 11 points and now has scored in double figures in 10 of 13 games as a sophomore.

Despite Robert Morris’ losing streak, Kavon Stewart (23 points, 7 assists, 5 steals) has been tremendous of late, registering 56 points, 21 made free throws, 17 assists and 10 steals in his last 3 games. Rodney Pryor, though, had his worse shooting performance of the season, going 4-14 from the floor for a season low 10 points.

Bryant 85, Fairleigh Dickinson 80
Bryant has won three in a row after dispatching a feisty Knights club in New Jersey. Marcel Pettway continued his excellent run, posting 26 points (on 10 shots!!), 11 rebounds and 4 assists. The freshman wasn’t alone, as five Bryant players in all scored at least 10 points in the victory.

Bryant was in control for most of the game, going up 45-30 after 20 minutes of play. In that splendid half of basketball, Bryant made 60.0% of their shots, controlled the glass with a +7 rebounding margin and made five threes and 10 free throws. The Bulldogs are back in sync offensively, as they’ve now averaged 1.23 ppp (235 points in 201 possessions) in three consecutive wins. Scoring the basketball has obviously been a recipe for success—when Bryant posts an effective field goal percentage under 50.0% for a game, they are 0-7 this season.

Darian Anderson led FDU with 23 points, although he struggled to make shots from behind the arc (1-9). Overall, there wasn’t much balance for Greg Herenda—Anderson, Earl Potts and Stephen Jiggets made up 72.5% of their scoring—with the remaining players needing 25 shots to score 23 points. The Knights will now head to Fairfield to take on Sacred Heart this Thursday, before hosting a winnable game vs. CCSU on Saturday.

LIU Brooklyn 76, Central Connecticut 67
LIU Brooklyn led wire-to-wire as a 22-7 start was enough to even their league record to 1-1 for the young season. During that excellent first stanza, seven Blackbirds scored points for Jack Perri. Jerome Frink led the group with 19 points, but Martin Hermansson was the most efficient (surprise, surprise) with 17 points, 6 assists and 3 steals on 6-10 shooting. Junior Aakim Saintil had 16 points and 5 dimes and Nura Zanna made his presence felt on the glass with 13 rebounds.

The Blackbirds took advantage of the Blue Devils’ miscues, scoring an impressive 26 points off of 16 CCSU turnovers. They also were able to get the line a lot for the second straight league game, making 20 of 26 from the charity stripe.

Austin Nehls made four threes and scored 14 points in the defeat. After coming off a double-double performance at Bryant, Brandon Peel had an off night with 4 points and 2 rebounds. CCSU has now lost four in a row and 12 of their first 13 games this season.

For Ray Curran’s recap for this game, go here.

Mount St. Mary’s 44, St. Francis Brooklyn 40, OT
In what could be construed as an ugly, grind-it-out contest, the Mountaineers remained undefeated at home this season (5-0) to persevere past the offensively challenged St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers. The Mountaineers used a timely 9-0 run late in regulation—thanks mainly to Junior Robinson (13 points)—to force overtime. In the extra frame, Jamion Christian’s group eventually outlasted a Terrier team that ended up going more than 10 minutes in the second half and overtime without a single field goal.

BK Ashe has now scored in double figures for 10 straight conference games, although tonight was one of his worst offensive efforts. He did manage to grab 9 rebounds and block 3 shots, however. He and his teammates on the offensive end (only 0.67 points per possession!) were bailed out by their stout defensive attack and the Terriers’ inability to hit a perimeter jumper. In five home games this season, Mount St. Mary’s has forced 113 turnovers on 360 possessions for an incredible turnover rate of 31.4%.

St. Francis Brooklyn shot 28.8% from the field and posted an absymal assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.21 for the contest. Their inability to close the game out after leading 34-25 with 6 minutes remaining has led to the program’s first 0-2 start in league play since the 2007-08 season. That season they finished 7-22 when it was all said and done.

NEC Player of the Day
Marcel Pettway, Bryant – Remarkably, Pettway has quickly evolved into one of the best big men in the conference as a rookie. His 26 point, 11 rebound performance tonight was the seventh straight time he’s posted a KenPom offensive efficiency rating north of 100. For a freshman big, that is an incredible achievement.

NEC Performance of the Day
Bryant – O’Shea’s group took care of business today and appears to be reaping the benefits of what turned out to be an absolutely brutal non-conference schedule. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger and that mantra seems to be Bryant’s rallying cry as they currently sit in a three-way tie for first place in the NEC.

NEC Standings
T1) Bryant, 2-0
T1) Saint Francis U., 2-0
T1) Mount St. Mary’s, 2-0
T4) LIU Brooklyn, 1-1
T4) Fairleigh Dickinson, 1-1
T4) Sacred Heart, 1-1
T4) Wagner, 1-1
T8) Robert Morris, 0-2
T8) St. Francis Brooklyn, 0-2
T8) Central Connecticut, 0-2

Next Up on the NEC Schedule
Bryant at Wagner, 7 p.m. (live on CBS Sports Network)
Central Connecticut at Mount St. Mary’s, 7 p.m.
Fairleigh Dickinson at Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.
Robert Morris at LIU Brooklyn, 7 p.m.
Saint Francis U at St. Francis Brooklyn, 7 p.m.
*All games are on Thursday, January 7

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