Today marks the one third mark of the conference season and teams are clearly separating themselves into notable tiers. Let’s break down the action before laying out the NEC standings.
St. Francis Brooklyn 85, Sacred Heart 67
St. Francis Brooklyn continued their dominance on their home court (5-2, 3-0 NEC) with a lopsided beatdown of Sacred Heart this afternoon. After a Cane Broome free throw gave the Pioneers a 1-0 lead within the first 20 seconds, the Terriers went ahead with a Yunus Hopkinson three and never looked back. They held a 23-point advantage at halftime and led by more than 30 in the second stanza.
Most impressive was the defensive effort of Glenn Braica’s group, led by senior defensive stalwarts Amdy Fall and Tyreek Jewell. In the first half alone, Fall had six rejections (in comparison, SHU made 7 field goals in the same time span) and was mainly responsible for the Pioneers anemic effort inside the arc, where they converted 39% of their attempts. Jewell did his damage out on the perimeter, holding star guard Cane Broome to just 6 points and forcing 2 turnovers in the first half. (Broome did have a good second half with 12 points, but the game was essentially over by then.)
On the offensive end, the Terriers scored a season high 1.21 points per possession, fueled by the backcourt duo of Hopkinson and Tyreek Jewell. The upperclassmen combined to score 39 points and hit 8 three-pointers in the rout. St. Francis also had 19 assists on 27 made field goals (70.4%) and shot 55.1%.
LIU Brooklyn 79, Bryant 61
The Blackbirds went to Smithfield, RI and came away with a convincing victory thanks to a career game from Trevin Woods. Woods came off the bench to score 20 points in 26 minutes thanks to 6-10 three-point shooting. Even playing on the road the Blackbirds did manage to dominate on the free throw line. LIU attempted 20 free throws compared with just 7 for the home Bryant Bulldogs. Jerome Frink had a strong all-around game for the Blackbirds, with 12 points and 7 rebounds along with 3 assists and 3 blocks. Martin Hermansson chipped in 11 points and 8 assists in the win.
Freshman Marcel Pettway was excellent for Bryant, going for the double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, thanks to 14 shots from two-point range. Dan Garvin came off the bench and scored six points on just 3-11 shooting, but he did grab 10 rebounds as well. It was 19-19 with eight minutes remaining in the first half, but Bryant allowed a 25-9 run during that stretch to trail by 16 at halftime.
Hunter Ware scored 14 points, but it took him 16 shots to get there. That was part of the reason that the Blackbirds had their best defensive performance of NEC play thus far. (It was only Bryant’s second worse offensive performance though as Tim O’Shea’s team really struggled against Wagner in their other loss earlier this season.)
Mount St. Mary’s 82, Saint Francis U. 72
The Mountaineers wrapped up an impressive PA road trip with a decisive victory over the Red Flash in Loretto, PA. It’s the Mount’s second straight road victory after opening the conference slate with four consecutive home games.
With the game deadlocked at 53 midway through the second half, the Mount’s Will Miller scored on two straight threes and then stole an inbounds pass and assisted Gregory Graves on a jumper at the top of the key. The surge capped off a pivotal 9-0 run with 7:00 remaining, giving the Mount a nine point lead. SFU wouldn’t cut the deficit to under 7 points the rest of the way.
The Mount shot a sizzling 58.3% from the field, led by senior Gregory Graves with 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting. Six other Mountaineers scored at least 7 points, as the starting backcourt duo of Junior Robinson and BK Ashe combined for 26 points. In all, the Mount scored 1.24 points per possession, their second best offensive output of the season.
In addition, the Mount Mayhem defense did an excellent job shutting down guard Greg Brown, who was held to a season low 6 points on 10 shot attempts. Ronnie Drinnon (18 points, 11 rebounds) did his best keeping the Red Flash competitive, posting his fifth straight double-double and eighth of the season. But it wasn’t enough as the Red Flash dropped their second straight in Loretto after winning five of their first six home games.
Wagner 70, Central Connecticut 48
As expected, Wagner bounced back after a home loss to LIU Brooklyn to dispatch the hapless Blue Devils in Staten Island. The 22-point loss keeps this 1-16 CCSU roster at the bottom of Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.
Sure Wagner got a bunch of help, but the Seahawks’ defense came to play after struggling earlier in the week against the Blackbirds. LIU scored 1.06 points per possession on Thursday at the Spiro Center, but the Blue Devils managed just 0.70 ppp. Brandon Peel was the only CCSU player who finished in double figures with 15 points and eight rebounds.
On the other side the Seahawks were led by another incredibly efficient performance from Corey Henson, who scored 18 points on 11 shots. Henson also had three assists and three steals with zero turnovers. He got some help from Michael Carey, who had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Ramone Saunders, who scored 13 points and added five rebounds and five assists. That type of balanced offensive effort should be enough whenever Wagner’s trademark defense comes to play.
How games are called is also going to be super important for Bashir Mason’s team. Just a few days after committing 28 fouls and allowing LIU to shoot 30 free throws the Seahawks gave up only nine free throws in the entire game against CCSU.
Robert Morris 64, Fairleigh Dickinson 58
In one of the more improbable performances of the season, walk-on junior Conrad Stephens came off the bench to score 13 points and grab 6 rebounds to help lead a shorthanded Robert Morris squad to a desperately needed home win over the previously surging Knights. The loss snapped a FDU three game winning streak and knocks them out of a first place tie.
In addition to Stephens, the Colonials also got noteworthy performances from Elijah Minnie (17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks) and Kavon Stewart (12 points, 10 assists). Defensively, the Colonial 2-3 zone held FDU to just 0.91 points per possession while forcing 18 turnovers in the process. It was the worst offensive performance for FDU this conference season.
FDU did have four players reach double figures in scoring, but Greg Herenda received little help from his bench with just 8 total points. Sophomore Stephen Jiggetts led the Knights with 15 points, while Mike Holloway had a stellar effort after a 13 point, 9 rebound, 4 assist and 2 block performance.
NEC Player of the Day
Tyreek Jewell, St. Francis Brooklyn – After a rough start to his senior season shooting the basketball, Jewell has come around to post 6 straight games in double figures. More impressively, the senior guard now has a 117.2 offensive rating and a 12.6% turnover rate in league play, giving Braica a perimeter weapon to lean on of late.
NEC Performance of the Day
Mount St. Mary’s – Thanks to losses from Bryant and FDU, Mount St. Mary’s has sole possession of first place at the moment after knocking off Robert Morris and SFU by double digits on the road. The Mount now must travel north to Sacred Heart and FDU before heading back to Emmitsburg
1) Mount St. Mary’s, 5-1
T2) Bryant, 4-2
T2) Fairleigh Dickinson, 4-2
T2) Wagner, 4-2
T5) Saint Francis U, 3-3
T5) St. Francis Brooklyn, 3-3
T5) LIU Brooklyn, 3-3
8) Sacred Heart, 2-4*
9) Robert Morris, 2-4
10) Central Connecticut, 0-6
*Sacred Heart has the tiebreaker on Robert Morris based on head-to-head record (1-0)
Next Up on the NEC Schedule
Mount St. Mary’s at Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.
LIU Brooklyn at Fairleigh Dickinson., 7 p.m.
Saint Francis U at Bryant, 7 p.m.
Wagner at St. Francis Brooklyn, 7 p.m.
Robert Morris at Central Connecticut, 7 p.m.
*All games are on Thursday, January 21