We have reached the conclusion of the four games in eight days stretch. With more than 20% of the conference already completed, let’s break down the action from the second Saturday of the New Year.
Wagner 76, Sacred Heart 59
A 14-0 run midway through the second half was enough to comfortably give Wagner, who led from start to finish, their fifth victory in their past six games against Sacred Heart. Bashir Mason’s group also saw their winning streak extended to three games and will now get to play six of their next eight at the home.
Dwaun Anderson and Romone Saunders paced the surging Seahawks by each scoring a career high 22 points apiece. Saunders arguably put up the best game of his career, needing just 13 shots to score his 22 points while corralling a game high eight rebounds. Wagner scored 1.12 points per possession in the victory and used a +10 margin on the glass to help control this game from the beginning.
From an offensive efficiency standpoint, Cane Broome had his second worst game of the season, mustering just 11 points on 3 of 14 shooting. His output was enough, however, to lead the hapless Pioneers in scoring while only two others (Matej Buovac and Eyimofe Edukugho) hit the double-digit mark at 10 points each. Collectively, Sacred Heart shot 39.2% (20 of 51) against Wagner’s stout defense. The Pioneers will head to Central Connecticut next Thursday, in what could be construed as a must win for Anthony Latina’s struggling group.
St. Francis Brooklyn 56, Robert Morris 49
After last losing to Robert Morris at the Pope Center in last season’s NEC championship, the Terriers enacted some revenge with an ugly, grinding victory over a scuffling Colonial squad. The Terriers only scored 0.85 points per possession in their second straight win in Brooklyn, but it was enough after holding Robert Morris to 34.6% from the floor.
St. Francis Brooklyn had more turnovers (19) than field goals made (15) and shot a miserable 18.2% from downtown, yet another excellent performance at the charity stripe (22 of 30, 73.3%) was clearly the difference. Antonio Jenifer logged his second career double-double with 10 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. A dominant performance rebounding the basketball (+23 rebounding margin) surely helped, especially with 18 offensive rebounds leading to 10 second chance points.
For the Colonials, the offensive struggles continue as they are currently dead last in offensive efficiency at 90.7 points scored per 100 possessions. Last night, in fact, was the sixth straight game Robert Morris failed to crack the 1.00 ppp threshold. Rodney Pryor (14 points, 9 rebound, 2 assists) did his best to fill up the stat sheet, but it wasn’t enough for the 3-14 Colonials.
Bryant 82, Mount St. Mary’s 79, 2 OT
The Mountaineers had their undefeated season at the Knott Arena snapped in stunning fashion, as the visiting Bulldogs engineered an outstanding comeback in regulation and did enough during the extra time to win their 4th game in their last five. The victory also was the first time Bryant had won at Mount St. Mary’s in their history.
After back-to-back threes from Junior Robinson extended the Mount’s advantage to a game high 20 points early in the 2nd half, Bryant began to slowly chip away at the deficit until, against all odds, a Shane McLaughlin layup with 1 second left pushed the game into an extra frame. The Mount seemingly was in control then as well, leading by 4 with under 1 minute to play in the first OT. But then three non-shooting fouls allowed Bryant, with free throws, to send the game into a second OT. From there, Bryant took control for good after a Nisre Zouzoua layup gave the Bulldogs their first lead in 44 minutes.
McLaughlin nearly logged a triple double, registering 21 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists in the improbable road victory. Freshman Nisre Zouzoua also played well with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Bryant is now part of a 3-way tie for first place at 3-1 after playing three of their first four NEC games on the road.
Senior Taylor Danaher was supremely efficient in the defeat, posting 19 points after making all nine of his field goal attempts. Junior Robinson chipped in with a team high 20 points.
Saint Francis U. 72, LIU Brooklyn 65
SFU was 1-5 in last 6 NEC games in Brooklyn, yet a 14-0 run to begin the second half gave the Red Flash enough cushion to outlast LIU Brooklyn with free throws yesterday evening. SFU controlled the glass (40-29), especially on the offensive end where 13 rebounds led to 15 second chance points.
Six Red Flash players scored at least seven points in the victory, with Greg Brown leading the way with a team high 14 points. Rob Krimmel’s group did well in all facets offensively, posting shooting percentages of 50.0% 2PT, 40.0% 3PT and 72.7% FT.
Offensively, LIU Brooklyn remains in a funk with just two players — Jerome Frink (18 points, 7 rebounds) and Martin Hermansson (17 points) — providing the consistency needed to succeed. The two are 49 of 91 (53.8%) from the floor in league play, whereas the rest of their teammates are shooting just 42 of 133 (31.6%). As a whole, LIU Brooklyn has now scored 264 points in 281 possessions (0.94 ppp) in NEC play and has failed to crack the 1.00 ppp threshold in three of four.
Fairleigh Dickinson 92, Central Connecticut 73
Earl Potts (22 points, 5 rebounds) and Marques Townes (18 points on 7 shots) paced FDU in what turned out to be an easy victory over Central Connecticut at the Rothman Center.
Five Knights scored in double figures with the team making 55.6% of their shots. Greg Herenda’s team scored a season high 1.29 points against one of the worst defenses in the country.
The freshman trio of Austin Nehls, Malik Toppin and Jahill Nails combined for 43 points on 28 shots, but it wasn’t enough to offset another putrid defensive effort. The Blue Devils are now 3-20 in their last 23 league games.
NEC Player of the Day
Shane McLaughlin, Bryant – He isn’t the flashiest, most athletic point guard you’ll find, but McLaughlin is a tough, cerebral leader who’s driving the Bryant offensive engine on a game by game basis. And every once in a while, he’ll do this in the clutch:
NEC Performance of the Day
Wagner – With arguably the toughest NEC schedule thus far, Wagner has impressively won 3 of 4 and is now projected by KenPom to finish atop the NEC standings at 13-5. There’s still a long way to go, but with the team back to its defensive first philosophy, Mason clearly has enough talent to get Wagner into the league’s top four.
NEC Standings (guessing here on final records)
T1) Mount St. Mary’s, 3-1
T1) Fairleigh Dickinson, 3-1
T1) Wagner, 3-1
T1) Bryant, 3-1
T1) Saint Francis U, 3-1
6) St. Francis Brooklyn, 2-2
T7) LIU Brooklyn, 1-3
T7) Robert Morris, 1-3
T7) Sacred Heart, 1-3
10) Central Connecticut, 0-4
Next Up on the NEC Schedule
Fairleigh Dickinson at Saint Francis U., 7 p.m.
St. Francis Brooklyn at Bryant, 7 p.m.
Sacred Heart at Central Connecticut, 7 p.m.
Mount St. Mary’s at Robert Morris, 7 p.m.
LIU Brooklyn at Wagner, 7 p.m.
*All games are on Thursday, January 14