The wacky NEC keeps on turning. Just one unbeaten remains and no one is winless. We’re four games in and we might know absolutely nothing. It’s going to be a crazy season. Let’s recap all of Saturday’s action.
St. Francis Brooklyn 71, Wagner 52 - I covered this one already. The Terriers were tougher. What’s happened to Wagner’s defense? The Seahawks allowed 71 points in 65 possessions. Personally, I think losing Jonathon Williams in the paint has hurt Wagner’s defense more than its offense. Without him there to occupy the opponent’s best offensive post player the other Wagner post players, who want to block shots, are struggling. Both teams are now 3-1 and in second place.
Bryant 69, Central Connecticut 62 - The Bulldogs have played three of their four NEC games on the road and are 4-0, so they’re for real. Sure there’s no depth, four guys played at least 33 minutes on Saturday, but those guys are good players. Tim O’Shea’s team actually trailed 56-53 with four minutes remaining, but the Bulldogs were tougher down the stretch. Alex Francis had a monster 26-point, 18-rebound game (of course he also had seven turnovers). Kyle Vinales scored 22 points, but he was 5-19 from the field overall. CCSU is 2-2 and hosts Wagner on Thursday.
Robert Morris 70, Monmouth 55 - It’s official, RMU is back. Andy Toole once again has this team rolling. After not playing against Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday, Lucky Jones returned to score 18 points and grab eight rebounds. The Colonials needed the offensive output as Velton Jones didn’t play much after suffering a blow to the head during the first half. Monmouth scored 0.82 points per possession and shot just 36% from the field. That’s the type of defense Toole expects. Monmouth is now 1-3 in the NEC and in a terrible offensive slump. The Hawks haven’t scored more than a point per possession since Dec. 3 at Binghamton. Actually they’ve only accomplished that feat twice all season. Jesse Steele seems to have finally found his shot (find a replay of his halftime buzzer beater), he finished 6-11 for 17 points, but no one is helping him.
Sacred Heart 80, Quinnipiac 74 - After a miserable non-conference schedule that had Ryan wanting to throw things around his living room the Pioneers have turned things around during NEC play and are 3-1 in the league. What has happened to Quinnipiac? Let’s start with the fact that the Bobcats just can’t shoot. They made 40% of their shots and 52% of their free throws against SHU. If they shoot a completely reasonable 20-27 from the line (74%) it’s going to overtime. Ike Azotam was particularly guilty in this one, shooting 2-7 from the line. Ryan will have more on Quinnipiac’s struggles soon. It was the Shane Gibson show for Sacred Heart. He scored 31 points on 18 shots. His backcourt mate Steve Glowiak is no slouch either. Glowiak went 3-4 from three and scored 21 points to go with five assists. The defense still isn’t great, but Dave Bike has to be loving the wins.
LIU Brooklyn 86, Mount St. Mary’s 72 - E.J. Reed exploded for 21 points and LIU won a showcase at the Barclays Center. Along with Reed’s big game the Blackbirds got strong performances from all the usual suspects. Jamal Olasewere scored 16, C.J. Garner 19, Brandon Thompson 14 and Jason Brickman had 10 assists. LIU also turned the ball over only 14 times. It adds up to 1.28 points per possession on offense. Mayhem has really struggled lately. The Mount shot 11-32 from three and while Rashad Whack scored 18 points, the next highest scorer was Raven Barber with 10. Both teams are now 1-3 in league play. Things don’t get any easier for Jamion Christian, as he’s got to take his guys to Bryant and Central Connecticut next weekend.
Fairleigh Dickinson 79, St. Francis (PA) 69 (OT) - In possibly the most competitive game of the weekend the Knights got back to .500 with a 10-point overtime victory. Mustafaa Jones tied the game on a three with 20 seconds remaining in regulation and then Sidney Sanders turned it on during the extra five minutes to pull out the win in New Jersey. Sanders finished with 15 points. Lonnie Robinson scored 17 and Kinu Rochford continued his strong play with 11 points and 12 rebounds in only 19 minutes while battling foul trouble. Earl Brown continues to be a beast for SFPA. He scored 17 points and grabbed 12 boards. Stephon Mosley led all scorers with 19 points. The Red Flash didn’t score a point for the first 5:50 of the game. It’s good FDU pulled out the win, because it would’ve been hard to explain how they let a seven-point lead with 5:28 remaining slip away. FDU continues their home stand with a random non-conference game against NJIT on Monday.