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Northeast Conference Notebook

December 10, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Northeast Conference Notebook

by Keith Burdette

Last week featured Saturday’s big clash between NEC favorites Central Connecticut State and Quinnipiac. What was the result? POSTPONED. Thanks to Winter Storm 2003, the first Nor’easter of the season or whatever the heck you want to call it, these two teams which are a mere 30 minutes apart did not play. This wasn’t the only game affected that day either. Monmouth faced Rutgers in a key non-conference battle for the NEC, yet these schools which are 45 minutes apart couldn’t get together due to the same weather pattern. I on the other hand fishtailed my way through six inches of snow on the freeway on my way to work Saturday night. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled having lived in Vermont and New Hampshire for the past four years where nothing ever gets postponed except for an occasional lunch break for the snowplow drivers.

With these postponements, the Long Island/Sacred Heart match up on Monday night became the first conference game of the season. The Blackbirds jumped out to an early lead thanks to a couple threes from James Williams and led by five about halfway through the first half. But from there, an 11-0 run gave the Pioneers a lead they would hold for much of the rest of the game. With just over three minutes to play, SHU led 84-72. But the combination of missed free throws and Blackbird three pointers cut into the Pioneer lead. With eleven seconds to go, Esa Maki-Tulokas hit a three to tie the score at 87. With seemingly with one chance left, Omar Wellington missed a three but the ball bounced off a Blackbird defender and out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left. Off the inbounds play, Kibwe Trim hit a lay-up as the buzzer sounded to give Sacred Heart the win. At 1-0, the Pioneers get to take their perfect conference record into the New Year but Long Island is back at it this weekend with a game at home against Fairleigh Dickinson. The only other conference game this week is St. Francis PA traveling cross-state to face Robert Morris also on Saturday.

Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (1-1)

The Blue Devils only scheduled game last week was the tilt with Quinnipiac. There’s only one game on the schedule this week and it’s a border war with Massachusetts at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Last year, CCSU came away with a 46-45 come from behind victory and another win this year would help cement them as an NEC favorite. It will be tough to evaluate whether they can build off this game since they won’t play again until December 21st against Providence and then after that they wait until December 30th to play Niagara. The game with Quinnipiac has yet to be rescheduled and it’s looking like it’ll have to wait until 2004 with exam and holiday breaks coming up.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (2-3)

After getting back to .500, the Knights took a step back with a tough loss to Florida State. In the 83-46 loss, leading scorer Gordon Klaiber was held to only two points. Chad Timberlake and Brandon Edwards each had twelve points and freshman Andrea Crosariol added six points and a game-high nine rebounds but were overmatched against the ACC school. FDU will have to wait until Saturday to get back on the court for their first conference game against Long Island.

Long Island Blackbirds (2-3)

The loss to Sacred Heart made it three straight for the Blackbirds. Last Wednesday, the Blackbirds lost their first game of the year to Delaware 89-76. James Williams had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists while Brandon Thomas led three other players in double figures with 19 points but that couldn’t get them past a hot Blue Hen squad. On Friday night, the Blackbirds lost their second straight to Bighamton 66-52. James Williams and Derek Bell led the way with ten points but the team shot only 32 percent from the field to do them in. There were several bright spots in the loss to Sacred Heart. Freshman Esa Maki-Tulokas scored 25 points and grabbed thirteen rebounds, both career-highs. Freshman James Williams scored fourteen points including three three-pointers. Raymond Edwards also added fifteen points in defeat. Two games are on the schedule this week with a game Wednesday against Albany before the next conference game Saturday against Fairleigh Dickinson.

Monmouth Hawks (3-2)

Hawks fans everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when Dwayne Byfield came back from his sprained ankle to play in last Tuesday’s 89-76 win over Siena. Monmouth had split the two games in his absence. Byfield was limited to 23 minutes of action against Siena but scored 21 points on 8-13 shooting and earned NEC player of the week honors. Chris Kenny and Blake Hamilton also reached double figures. Marques Alston had seven points, six rebounds and five assists off the bench and earned NEC rookie of the week honors. The win made Monmouth the only team in the NEC over .500 which is all the more impressive since each game has been played on the road or at a neutral site. The home opener finally comes this week when Hofstra comes to town on Wednesday. Saturday, the University of Missouri at Kansas City will come to Jersey. No makeup date has been announced for the game with Rutgers.

Mount Saint Mary’s Mountaineers (0-6)

Still waiting for their first win, the Mountaineers dropped their only contest last week to High Point 82-74. Landy Thompson led the way with eighteen points and Charles Cook added fifteen points but the team gave up 56 percent shooting to High Point. The Mount had a 48-45 lead but were done in by a 17-5 Panther run late in the second half. Only one game is on the docket this week as the Mount faces fellow Maryland native Loyola on Saturday.

Quinnipiac Bobcats (2-4)

With the CCSU game postponed, the only game this week was a Monday date with Drexel. After opening the game with a 12-4 run, the Bobcats went cold and shot only 35.5 percent in the first half but the Dragons couldn’t do much better and only led by two at the break. In the second half, the Bobcats stayed cold while Drexel shot 58 percent including a blistering 9-13 from downtown. Free throws were the only thing that kept the score as close as the 89-72 final. Rashaun Banjo led the way with nineteen points and Rob Monroe added seventeen but shot only 2-11 from the field. Kason Mims and CJ Vick made it four starters in double figures with fifteen and ten points respectively. The only game for Quinnipiac this week is a Saturday trip to Storrs to face former Hoopville number one and in-state rival Connecticut.

Robert Morris Colonials (1-3)

The Colonials got their first win of the season last Tuesday with a 90-60 thumping of DIII Carnegie Mellon. Aaron Thomas led five players in double figures with seventeen points and ten rebounds. But RMU couldn’t keep the momentum going and lost Saturday to Birmingham Southern 83-75. The Colonials took the lead early in the first half and held it for much of the game. But leading by three with five and a half minutes to play, the Panthers went on a 15-1 run to put the game away. Chaz McCrommon led the Colonials with 26 points and eight rebounds but only Maurice Carter joined him in double figures with eleven points. RMU forced only eight turnovers but gave the ball up eighteen times which hurt their chances. The only game this week for Robert Morris is the first conference game against St. Francis PA on Saturday.

Sacred Heart Pioneers (3-3)

The Pioneers opened last week with an 85-79 overtime loss to Columbia. Omar Wellington hit a three pointer with fifteen seconds to go to force the overtime but the team couldn’t muster much offense in the extra period. Maurice Bailey led the way with 23 points and Wellington added 20 in the loss. Thursday’s 73-59 loss to Yale marked two straight defeats at the hands of an Ivy League foe. Three players reached double-figures including the Bailey-Wellington duo with 28 points between them. Bailey and Wellington again led the Pioneers in the victory over Long Island. Wellington had 21 points and eight assists while Bailey added fifteen points. Three other players were in double-figures; Kibwe Trim had seventeen points including the game-winner, Joey Henley had twelve points and James Samuels had ten points. Only one game is on the schedule this week as SHU plays Big East foe Boston College.

Saint Francis (NY) Terriers (1-3)

The Terriers dropped their only contest last week 78-68 against St. Peter’s. No team shot well in the first half and SFNY trailed by only one at the break. The Peacocks opened the second half with a thirteen point run to take control of the game. The Terriers cut the lead to four at one point but the Peacocks hit their free throws down the stretch to preserve the win. Tony Cavalieri led the team with fifteen points and Eric Thompson added thirteen points and eleven rebounds for a double-double. Sean Dantzler and John Quintana also scored in double figures coming off the bench. The road doesn’t get any easier with this week’s only game against St. John’s.

Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash (1-4)

The Red Flash got their first win of season this week but not before another setback. Last Wednesday, SFPA lost to Howard 79-72. The Red Flash held the lead going into the break but could not stop the Bison’s inside scoring in the second half. Darshan Luckey scored 23 points but on 5-15 shooting while Erick Wills dropped in sixteen points. On Saturday, the Red Flash overcame 42 points and eleven threes from Bucknell’s Kevin Bettencourt to get the 84-77 win. Luckey scored a season-high 28 points with Wills adding seventeen and Steveroy Daley adding eighteen. As a team, SFPA shot 61 percent from the field to sink the Bisons. Having had their fill of Bison, the Red Flash have exams this week and return to action on Saturday with the conference opener against Robert Morris.

Wagner Seahawks (0-4)

Last year’s conference champ still find themselves looking for their first win this season. Last Tuesday, the Seahawks fell to Delaware State 59-48. Nigel Wyatte, Sean Munson and Teoine Carroll gave Wagner three players in double figures for the first time this season but that wasn’t enough to overcome 11 for 21 free throw shooting and eight assists opposed to fourteen turnovers. Saturday brought a trip to Ohio to face Maui Invitational champ Dayton. The Flyers may have debuted on the Hoopville Top 25 this week, but they sure got scare from the Seahawks. In the first half, Dayton built a fourteen point and it looked like they would cruise to another victory. But this gritty Seahawk bunch clawed into the lead and cut it to five at the break. Wagner kept up the intensity in the second half and took the lead at one point 51-47 and again at 60-58. After that, a cold stretch plagued the Seahawks and allowed Dayton to regain the lead for good. Teoine Carroll hit a three to cut the lead to one at 64-63 but they would get no closer and lost 67-65. In the loss, Sean Munson had a double-double with ten points and eleven rebounds and Kevin Martin had thirteen points off the bench. Despite the loss, the Seahawks showed they are a team to be reckoned with in the NEC this year. Wagner hopes to pick up their first win Monday against Georgia Southern.


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