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Northeast Conference Notebook

November 25, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Northeast Conference Notebook

by Keith Burdette

It has been a tough go for the NEC to this point, only two teams have managed to break the win column. Here’s a team-by-team look at the season to this point.

Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (0-0)

The Blue Devils are the only NEC team who has yet to play a game. They open the season Saturday against Charleston Southern in the Mohegan Sun Classic and will play Binghamton or Loyola Marymount on Sunday. These will be the only two games before opening NEC play against Quinnipiac on December 6th. On Monday, CCSU played Big Apple Basketball in an exhibition and won 83-79. Ron Robinson led the way with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Four players ended up with double digit points and three reach double-figures in rebounds. The Blue Devils also announced the signing Tristan Blackwood of Eastern Commerce High School in Toronto. Blackwood is considered one of the best point guard prospects in all of Canada.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (0-1)

The Knights traveled to Lincoln last Saturday and lost to Nebraska 80-64. FDU stayed with the Cornhuskers for much of the first half and led 24-23 with 6:56 to go, but Nebraska went on a 21-8 run to end the half and take control of the game. Gordon Klaiber led the team with 21 points and chipped in with five rebounds while playing all forty minutes. Marcus Whitaker had seven points and seven assists but shot only 2-9 from the field. The Knights travel to Maryland on Tuesday to play Morgan State who lost to Seton Hall in their only game. The first home game is on Saturday against American who fell to the University of Maryland in their only game.

Long Island Blackbirds (1-0)

Last Friday, LIU defeated the Lehigh Mountain Hawks 66-54 on the strength of 16 points from Brandon Thomas. Raymond Edwards had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. A couple freshmen played key roles as James Williams scored ten points and had six rebounds and Esa Maki-Tulokas had nine points and six rebounds. Maki-Tulokas was named the NEC rookie of the week for his efforts. There’s only one game on the slate this week with the Hartford Hawks coming to Brooklyn on Saturday for the home opener.

Monmouth Hawks (2-1)

The Hawks competed in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands to start the season. They opened the tournament with a 69-65 win over the Appalachian St Mountaineers. Transfer Brian Boxler was playing his first game after sitting out last season and contributed 12 points against his former teammates. Chris Kenny and Blake Hamilton each scored 12 points and Dwayne Byfield had seven rebounds to lead the team along with ten points. The defense held the Mountaineers to only 32.4% shooting. In game two of the Paradise Jam, the Hawks fell to the Boston College Eagles 60-50. Pressed into action due injuries to Dwayne Byfield and Brian Boxler, freshman Deki Delic led the team with nine points. The Hawks trailed 25-15 at halftime after shooting 6-25 from the field in the first half. The lead was cut to three at 35-32 before the Eagles went on a run to extend the lead; but Delic hit a couple threes to cut the lead to two at 42-40 with 5:13 left. Down the stretch, BC proved to be too much and pulled out the win. By virtue of the split in the first two games, Monmouth got to play Hampton for 3rd place in the six team field. Boxler sat with a concussion and Byfield was out with a sprained ankle, but the Hawks still fought to an inspired win. Hampton raced to a 37-21 lead at half time. Chris Kenny led the charge with two three-pointers in a 21-0 run in the second half that gave the Hawks the lead for good. Kenny ended the game with 14 points to lead the team while Blake Hamilton had 14 points to go with a team-high nine boards. Monmouth next plays on Saturday at St. Peter and won’t actually play a game at home until December 10th. No word on how long Byfield and Boxler will be out with their injuries.

Mount Saint Mary’s Mountaineers (0-4)

The Mountaineers had a tough stretch of four games in eight days to open the season. They opened the season last Sunday in the Guardians Classic against the University of New Hampshire and got squashed 94-68 despite 21 points from Landy Thompson and 15 points from Charles Cook. The second game of the Guardians Classic against Mississippi Valley State proved much more competitive. Landy Thompson hit two free throws with minimal time left in regulation to tie the game at 58 and send it into overtime. But up one late in the overtime period, Thompson missed two free throws and the Delta Devils hit two free-throws of their own on the ensuing possession to get the win 72-71. Landy Thompson scored 19 points in the loss, eight of which came in the overtime period. Last Friday, the Mount opened their home season against Delaware. Despite a 40-30 halftime lead and 30 points from Landy Thompson, the Mountaineers lost 75-72 in overtime. Again it took late game heroics to send the game into overtime; Charles Cook hit a three pointer with four seconds to go to tie the game at 62. Trailing by three late in the overtime, the Blue Hens stole an inbound pass to preserve the win. Landy Thompson scored 30 points in this game while Kiel Butler added 16 for the Mountaineers. After two straight overtime games, the Mountaineers traveled to Charlottesville on Sunday to face perennial cupcake scheduler Virginia. The Cavaliers were playing their first game and got much more than they bargained for. The Mount answered every Virginia run and kept the game close. The score was only 37-32 at halftime. At one point in the second half, Virginia led 72-56. But a 10-0 run led by three pointers from Charles Cook and Kiel Butler cut the lead to six with 78 seconds to play. The Mountaineers could get no closer and ended up losing 80-71. Kiel Butler had a career-high 26 points and Landy Thompson added 18 points in the losing effort. The road doesn’t getting any easier with a trip to South Bend to face Notre Dame this Saturday.

Quinnipiac Bobcats (0-2)

The Bobcats opened the season in the Florida International Tournament last Friday against Montana State. Quinnipiac dropped the battle of the Bobcats 87-75 despite 23 points from Rob Monroe and a double-double from CJ Vick. MSU led 50-29 at the break and Quinnipiac cut the lead to five with 8:35 to play but could not get any closer. Kason Mims also chipped in with 17 points in a losing effort. In the consolation game, the Bobcats faced host Florida International. After falling behind 15-10, an 11-0 run in the first half gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish until the closing minutes of the game. A dunk by FIU gave them the lead with 1:21 to play, but Craig Benson answered with a lay-up to retake the lead. Two free-throws with eight seconds to go gave the Golden Panthers the lead and the Bobcats attempt to answer got hacked away as Mims lost the ball on the baseline. The final score was 66-65 with Rashaun Banjo leading the way with 17 points. Rob Monroe scored 12 points in the game and was named NEC player of the week for his efforts over the weekend. The road for the Bobcats only gets warmer this week as they travel to Hawaii for the Hawaii-Hilo tournament. Friday they face Rider and Saturday they face Dartmouth. The result of those two games will determine who they face in the final round on Sunday.

Robert Morris Colonials (0-1)

The Colonials nearly opened their season with a road upset of St. Bonaventure. After falling behind 12-9, RMU went on a 6-0 run to take the lead. Despites a couple runs from the Bonnies, the Colonials led 39-35 at halftime. On two separate occasions, the Colonials led by 11 in the second including a 68-57 lead with 7:32 to go. An 11-0 run negated the lead but Aaron Thomas hit two pairs of free throws to bring the lead back to four. The Bonnies went on a 10-4 run to end the game. Trailing by two, Maurice Carter failed to get off a final shot in the 78-76 final. Chaz McCrommen led the way with 24 points and seven rebounds, Maurice Carter had 16 points while dishing out seven assists and Aaron Thomas scored 18 points with nine rebounds. Wednesday night, Robert Morris faces cross-town rival and 22nd ranked Pittsburgh in their only game of the week.

Sacred Heart Pioneers (0-1)

The Pioneers had the toughest draw of all NEC schools by facing Hoopville Preseaon Number One Connecticut in their season opener. After drawing first blood with a three-pointer, the Huskies answered with a 25-8 run to take the lead for good. The lead was stretched to 32 at halftime and despite a valiant effort in the second half, SHU lost 111-64. Omar Wellington and Maurice Bailey each paced the Pioneers with 15 points and Kibwe Trim added ten points in the loss. Next up for Sacred Heart is Army on Tuesday night and the home opener against Lehigh on Saturday.

St. Francis (NY) Terriers (0-1)

The Terriers were the only NEC school invited to the Preseason NIT and faced Massachusetts in the first round last Tuesday. SFNY fell behind 44-26 at the break and any comeback attempt was ended by a 18-2 Minuteman run in the second half in the 80-58 loss. Christain Brown led the way with 13 points and five boards while John Quintana added ten points. Up next is the George Washington University Tournament Friday against William and Mary and Saturday against George Washington or Appalachian State.

St. Francis (PA) Red Flash (0-1)

The Red Flash opened against cross-state rival Pittsburgh last Saturday. Hot shooting kept the game close in the first half, but the Panthers pulled away in the second half for a 90-69 victory. Darshan Luckey led all scorers with 23 points with Erick Wills contributing 18 points and Jason Osborne adding 13. The Red Flash was hurt in the second half by a bench that only scored four points in the entire game. Wednesday, the Red Flash travel to another cross-state rival in Penn State. Ohio is the destination Saturday for a date with Youngstown State. The home opener doesn’t come until December 6th against Bucknell.

Wagner Seahawks (0-1)

The Mike Deane era at Wagner opened with a 92-68 loss at Murray State. The Seahawks trailed 41-40 at halftime and took a 45-43 lead early in the second half before a 30-2 from the Racers buried any hope of winning. Courtney Pritchard had 24 points to lead the way but no other player scored in double figures. Rhode Island is the next stop for the Seahawks to face the Brown Bears on Tuesday. The home opener comes next Tuesday against Delaware State.


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