We are halfway through the furious eight game stretch to start the conference season, therefore allow us to dive right into the action for the first Thursday of the New Year!
Fairleigh Dickinson 80, Sacred Heart 68
After a heartbreaking loss in their last appearance at the Pitt Center a year ago, FDU impressively took care of business tonight, dominating the Pioneers for a majority of the contest for an easy road victory. The Knights shot 48.1% from the floor, had 13 more rebounds than their opponents (41-28) and made their freebies at the charity stripe (19-23, 82.6%) in a complete performance. They led Sacred Heart by as many as 28 points in the first half, after a stunning 38-13 run, and maintained a comfortable advantage throughout the duration of the second stanza.
Earl Potts (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Mike Holloway (15 points, 10 rebounds), both underclassmen, posted double doubles for the victors, while point guard Darian Anderson poured in 18 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds. In all, eight players made at least one field goal for Greg Herenda, helping the third year coach register only his fifth career road victory in league play.
If there was a silver lining for the Pioneers, it was the play of senior Tevin Falzon, who seemed to be bouncy down low with 17 points (on 10 shots), 4 rebounds and 3 blocks. Cane Broome scored a game high 24 points, yet everyone else on the roster could only muster 27 points on 30 shot attempts. Depth has been a major problem for Anthony Latina this season.
For Ray Curren’s in-depth recap on this game, go here.
Robert Morris 70, LIU Brooklyn 60
With their backs to the wall after an unlikely 0-2 start, the Colonials turned in an inspired performance late in the second half to earn their first NEC victory of the season in Brooklyn. With the victory, the Colonials avoided their first 0-3 start since the 1995-96 season, some 20 years ago.
LIU Brooklyn held a 51-49 advantage midway through the second half, but a Rodney Pryor triple gave the Colonials the lead for good. From that point forward, Robert Morris outscored the hosting Blackbirds 18-9 to pull away. For the first time this conference season, Pryor was splendidly efficient, registering a team high 21 points and 11 rebounds. Despite being saddled with foul trouble, sophomore Elijah Minnie was very helpful down the stretch with 13 points, 8 of those coming in the final five minutes of the contest.
As usual, Jerome Frink was dominant, posting his fifth double double of the season with 20 points and 15 rebounds. He has now scored in double figures for nine straight games. Unfortunately for Perri’s Blackbirds, though, the effort ultimately wasn’t there against Robert Morris’ active zone, as LIU shot just 36.1% while sinking to 0.82 points per possession for the contest.
Wagner 65, Bryant 56
Wagner’s excellent defense shutdown Bryant on the way to 9-point home victory. The Bulldogs came in off an explosive first weekend offensively, but they scored just 0.86 points per possession at the Spiro Sports Center. Bryant shot just 34% from the field (17-50) and just 14-24 (58%) from the free throw line. Dan Garvin led the Bulldogs with 14 points, on 14 shots, with Curtis Oakley scoring 12 and Hunter Ware 11. Freshman Marcel Pettway struggled a bit, going 2-6 from the field with nine rebounds and four assists, after two 26-point performances to open NEC play.
Despite Bryant’s offensive struggles the Seahawks didn’t take the lead for good until Corey Henson hit a three-pointer on kick out to the corner by Henry Brooks. After a strong defensive possession Michael Carey then extended the lead to five and Wagner never looked back. Carey finished with a career-high 15 rebounds and 10 points. Henson scored 11 points on eight shots for the Seahawks and Dwaun Anderson had eight rebounds and four blocks. Wagner only shot 35% from the field, but created seven extra possessions by crashing the offensive glass. Mike Aaman had seven offensive rebounds. Wagner and Bryant are now in a four-way tie for second place.
St. Francis Brooklyn 73, Saint Francis U. 56
After looking lost offensively on the road last weekend the Terriers returned to the Pope Physical Education Center and shot 50% from three-point range in an impressive victory over the formerly undefeated Red Flash. Tyreek Jewell led the way for SFC scoring 17 points on eight shots and going 7-8 from the free throw line. Three-point specialist Jon Doss came off the bench and added 15 points on 5-6 shooting from deep. When the Terriers shoot as well as they did on Thursday night they’re going to be nearly impossible to beat. The Terriers also managed to extend the margin down the stretch by going 17-20 from the free throw line.
On the other hand, SFU really struggled from the field. Greg Brown scored 19 points on 12 shots, but the Red Flash shot just 33% as a team (18-55). Brown did commit four turnovers as he was forced into point guard duties since Malik Harmon missed the game with an injury. Ronnie Drinnon (2-12) and Isaiah Blackmon (4-13) both struggled from the field and SFU didn’t receive much production from the bench. The Red Flash will try to bounce back on Saturday at LIU Brooklyn.
Mount St. Mary’s 73, Central Connecticut 62
The hapless Blue Devils hung tough with the score deadlocked at 30 apiece late in the first half, but the Mount ended up being too much to handle for CCSU in their friendly confines. With the victory, Jamion Christian’s group remains undefeated at home through six games this season.
Junior Robinson led the Mountaineers with 17 points, while the frontcourt trio of Gregory Graves, Taylor Danaher and Chris Wray contributed with 31 points on 13 of 23 shooting. Khalid Nwandu was very active during his 16 minutes of action with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist.
CCSU turned in one of their better defensive performances of the season, “holding” the Mountaineers to 1.07 points per possession, yet it wasn’t enough given their 25.0% turnover rate and 60.9% conversion at the free throw line on the offensive end. Mostafa Jones did his best to keep the Blue Devils in it, posting 18 points and 10 rebounds in defeat. Khalen Cumberlander (10 points) and Jahill Nails (12 points 4 rebounds, 2 assists) were the only other teammates to reach double figures in scoring.
NEC Player of the Day
Earl Potts, Fairleigh Dickinson – It’s been a fantastic sophomore season for Potts, and Thursday night continued to impressively add to Potts’ resume for an all-NEC conference team selection. The 6’5 forward posted the second double double of his career tonight, yet it was his ability to score multiple ways which was most impressive, making 3 twos, 3 triples and 5 free throws. His versatility and comfort anywhere on the floor makes the Knights very dangerous.
NEC Performance of the Day
Robert Morris – Declaring the third game of the conference season a must win is certainly over dramatizing the importance of one game in January, but tonight’s victory for the Colonials was a big deal. After dropping plenty of nail biters for much of the season, the talented group found their aggression and spunk late in the 2nd half to defeat a very game LIU club. Sitting at 1-2, Robert Morris has a chance to even up their conference season with a victory at a place Toole likely holds near and dear to his heart, the Pope Center.
1) Mount St. Mary’s, 3-0
T2) Saint Francis U., 2-1
T2) Bryant, 2-1
T2) Fairleigh Dickinson, 2-1
T2) Wagner, 2-1
T6) Sacred Heart, 1-2
T6) LIU Brooklyn, 1-2
T6) Robert Morris, 1-2
T6) St. Francis Brooklyn, 1-2
10) Central Connecticut, 0-3
Next Up on the NEC Schedule
Bryant at Mount St. Mary’s, 2 p.m.
Central Connecticut at Fairleigh Dickinson, 2 p.m.
Wagner at Sacred Heart, 3:30 p.m.
Robert Morris at St. Francis Brooklyn, 4 p.m.
Saint Francis U at LIU Brooklyn, 4:30 p.m.
*All games are on Saturday, January 9