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Northeast Conference Notebook

January 6, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Northeast Conference Notebook

by Keith Burdette

In the past two weeks, everyone, including myself, took a break of some sort. Central Connecticut State continues to play their season at a snail’s pace having played only two games during the entire month of December that haven’t been postponed. The team I picked to finish dead last in the league is one of only two teams to have won more games than they’ve lost. Last year’s champion finally picked up their first win of the season. Its been a crazy year so far and with the meat of the conference schedule right in front of us, chaos will more than likely continue to reign.

Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (2-3, 0-0 NEC)

The Blue Devils have had by far the strangest ride this season. Since the last column, they’ve played two games. The first was a December 21st tilt with Providence College. CCSU came out firing in the first half, building a lead of as many as twelve. The Friars clawed ahead early in the second half, but the Blue Devils answered with an eleven point run to get the lead back. But the more talented Friars came back and took a lead they would never relinquish with 6:42 to play. In 72-67 loss, Ron Robinson scored a career high 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Freshman DeMario Anderson added thirteen points and five rebounds and earned NEC rookie of the week honors. The second game they started on December 30th game against Niagara. But with 2:58 to play in the first half and Niagara holding a 40-33 lead, the power in all of New Britain went out and forced a postponed of the game. The game resumed at 1:30 PM the next day with both teams scoring six points to end the first half. CCSU opened the second with a 15-8 run to tie the score at 51. The game was again tied at 64 when the Purple Eagles used a 11-5 run to take the lead for good. Robinson hit a couple free throws at one point to cut the lead to one but the Blue Devils could not get any closer and Niagara won 79-74. Robinson led the way with eighteen points and eleven rebounds for the 26th double-double of his career and Justin Chiera added fifteen points. The five games the Blue Devils have finished is the fewest of all Division I teams in the country yet they still only play one game this week, a Monday game at Loyola MD.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (5-4, 1-0 NEC)

Last time we checked in with the Knights, they had just picked up their first conference win of the season. This time, they’ve gone over the .500 mark for the first time. The last two weeks didn’t start well with a 88-77 loss to St. Peter’s. The teams traded leads all through out the first half with the Peacocks grabbing the lead at the break. St. Peter’s effectively put the game away with a 19-4 run to start the second half and lead by as many as 24 at one point. A late 12-1 Knight run made the score respectable. Off the bench, Tamien Trent scored a team-high eighteen points and Andre Harris added twelve points. Only one starter reached double figures. Two nights later, FDU even their record with a 79-64 win over Buffalo. Gordon Klaiber led the team with 21 points and Gadi Buch added eighteen points as the only Knights in double figures. But it was enough as the team shot 53 percent for the game. The game was never close as FDU raced out to a 9-0 lead to start the game and held the Bulls to 23 percent shooting in the first half. December 30th brought a 67-60 win over Rider. Klaiber continued his hot stretch by scoring 23 points and grabbing nine boards. Rider led at the break by one but an early run to start the second half gave FDU the lead for good. Sunday, the Knights must travel to West Point to face Army for their last non-conference game of the season. In other team related news, head coach Tom Green received a contract extension although terms were not disclosed.

Long Island Blackbirds (4-6, 0-2 NEC)

The Blackbirds tried to recover from their second conference loss with probably their two toughest non-conference opponents. December 20th was a trip to Rutgers that LIU just as soon forget. Long Island missed their first nine shots and never really recovered. No player scored in double figures and the team shot a measly 27 percent from the floor in the 80-54 loss. Then, December 29th, the team traveled to South Carolina to face the College of Charleston in the Saturn Shootout. The Blackbirds shot only 29 percent and turned the ball over 20 times in another loss, this time 86-59. Raymond Edwards led the way with sixteen points and James Williams contributed twelve points. But the Blackbirds came back the next night and defeated Norfolk State 72-68 in the consolation game. Raymond Edwards scored 22 points on 11-14 shooting and former NEC rookies of the week Esa Maki-Tulokas and Evan Meekins added eleven and seventeen points, respectively. The only game this week is a trip to Big 12 country to face Texas A&M on Tuesday.

Monmouth Hawks (6-3, 0-0 NEC)

After a two week break, the Hawks got back to action with a couple in-state rivals. On December 28th, Monmouth defeated a visiting Rider 64-59. Blake Hamilton had his first career double-double with fourteen points and eleven rebounds while Chris Kenny added twelve points as the only other player in double figures. The Broncs rallied at the end of the game to try and take the lead but 11-12 free-throw shooting held them off. Two nights later, the Hawks dropped a 88-61 decision at Seton Hall. Every Pirate starter scored in double figures and the team shot 59 percent from the field. Blake Hamilton again led the way with sixteen points but the other four starters combined for only thirteen points. Two games line the schedule in the next week. The rescheduled game with Sacred Heart is on Saturday night and is the first conference game of the season. Next Wednesday brings a trip to yet another in-state rival in the Princeton Tigers.

Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (2-8, 0-1 NEC)

December 23rd, the Mount opened their conference season with a 75-66 loss to St. Francis NY. The Terriers used a late 16-5 run in the second half to take the lead and put the game away. Landy Thompson scored nineteen points, including seventeen in the second half to lead all scorers. Three days earlier, the Mount dropped a 74-55 decision to La Salle. The Explorers jumped out to the first half lead thanks to 24 points from Gary Neal and then cruised to victory as the Mount failed to find a hot hand in the second half to chip into the lead. Kiel Butler and Charles Cook led the way with twelve points each. The Mount snapped their two game skid with a nail-biter against Navy. Landy Thompson hit a two with 45 seconds to give his team a one point lead only to have the Midshipmen answer with a two of their own with eighteen seconds to play. But Thompson would have his revenge and hit the game-winner that bounced off the backboard as well as the front and back of the rim as time expired to lift the Mount to a 54-53 win. Thompson ended the game with fifteen points to lead the team while freshman Mychal Kearse had fourteen points and twelve rebounds for his first career double-double. This week the Mount play their fourth of sixth straight on the road with a trip to face in-state rival Maryland.

Quinnipiac Bobcats (2-7, 0-0 NEC)

Last we heard from the Bobcats was their decapitation at the hands of UConn. Sadly, things didn’t get much better. December 23rd was a trip to another Big East school in Notre Dame. The Irish jumped out to a big lead early but the Bobcats clawed back to trail by only four with about four minutes left to play in the half. But the Irish took a 44-27 lead at the break, closing the half with a 19-6 run. The Bobcats could get no closer than fourteen in the second half and lost 79-62. Kason Mims shined brightly in the loss scoring 23 points while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing off six assists. With the first eight games outside the state of Connecticut, the home opener finally came on December 30th with a game against Northern Arizona. But the Lumberjacks scored the first ten points of the game and the Bobcats struggled to come back the entire game. Down eleven at the break, Quinnipiac was able to cut the lead all the way down to one with seven minutes to play but couldn’t take the lead and NAU put them away for the 79-70 win. CJ Vick had a monster game with 21 points and eighteen rebounds but the rest of his teammates struggled from the field which made it difficult to put runs together. The Bobcats play at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon against St. Francis NY to open the conference season. The game is the first of a quadruple header at the World’s most famous arena with Holy Cross, Michigan and St. John’s featured in some of the later games. Manhattanville comes to Hamden on Monday to wrap up this week’s slate of games.

Robert Morris Colonials (3-5, 1-0 NEC)

The Colonials have the unique distinction of having won every game at home and have lost every game on the road. December 17th’s trip to Buffalo resulted in a 79-66 loss. RMU shot over 50 percent from the field but had three separate players foul out and 31 total fouls which contributed to the Bulls having a huge advantage at the line. Chaz McCrommen led all scorers with 22 points and Maurice Carter added sixteen. RMU returned to the Sewell Center on December 21st and posted a 70-63 win over Maryland Eastern Shore. Again Chaz McCrommon lead the way with 18 points as the Colonials started the game with a 7-0 run. UMES fought back to cut the lead to three at a couple points during the game but could get no closer. In the next game out on December 28th at Duquesne, RMU fell behind 6-0 to start the game but managed to come back and take a 29-28 lead in the first half. But the Dukes used a 17-8 run to close the half. In the second half, the Colonials would cut the lead to five before the Dukes broke the game open. Aaron Thomas had 23 points and ten boards for his fifth career double-double. Its on the road on Saturday as RMU takes on Eastern Kentucky before returning home to face Bucknell on Wednesday.

Sacred Heart Pioneers (4-5, 1-0 NEC)

The Pioneers split their last two games which both came on the road. On December 20th, SHU beat Albany 75-69. The Pioneers held the lead much of the first half but could not distance themselves from the Great Danes. The lead was one at the break and that same trend continued until the midpoint of the second half when Albany took it’s first lead of the game. The two teams traded leads until the 2:30 mark when Maurice Bailey hit a three to give the Pioneers the lead for good. James Samuels led four players in double figures with nineteen points and Kibwe Trim had a double-double with 15 points and eleven rebounds. On December 29th, the Pioneers traveled to Wisconsin to face one of last year’s Final Four participants Marquette. The Pioneers jumped out to an early lead but Marquette soon took control and led by as much as fifteen in the first half. But the lead was only eleven at the break. SHU used an early run in the second half to cut into the lead. With 5:41 to play, the lead was merely one at 62-61 but the Golden Eagles answered with a 6-0 run and held off the Pioneers down the stretch. In the 77-72 loss, Maurice Bailey, Jarrid Frye and Kibwe Trim all reach double figures. Conference games greet the Pioneers this week, traveling to Monmouth on Saturday and Wagner comes to town on Wednesday.

St. Francis NY Terriers (3-6, 1-0 NEC)

The Terriers started this past stretch of games with two straight defeats. December 17th brought a 61-53 loss to Binghamton. SFNY shot only 29 percent in the second half but used free throws to stay in the game and found themselves trailing by only two late. But the Bearcats made their free throws and forced a key turnover to hold the Terriers at bay. John Quintana led the team with 21 points off the bench but the starters scored only seventeen the entire game. On December 20th, Quintana again led the team with 22 points but the Terriers dropped a close one to Penn State. SFNY used 14 Nittany Lion turnovers to take a four point into the half. The Terriers extended their lead to eleven at 48-37 before Penn State started chipping away. The Nittany Lions took the lead for good with 7:59 to play and used hot shooting down the stretch to ice the game. SFNY bounced back on December 23rd and picked up its first conference win over Mount St. Mary’s. Four different players scored at least fifteen points, including sixteen a piece from John Quintana and Eric Thompson, as the Terriers used a 47 point second half to bury the Mount. SFNY made it two straight with a 78-76 overtime win over Cornell on December 29th. John Quintana was fouled as he attempted a game-tying three with 0.4 seconds to go. He calmly nailed all three free throws to tie the game at 69 and send it into overtime. In the extra frame, Mike Wilson gave the Terriers the lead with the last of his nineteen points and John Quintana hit a free throw with 0.8 seconds remaining to give the Terriers the 78-76 win. Quintana led the Terriers this time with 24 points. The showdown with Quinnipiac at Madison Square Garden is Saturday and SFNY play their final non-conference game of the season Tuesday at Army.

St. Francis PA Red Flash (3-5, 0-1 NEC)

The Red Flash won their last two games before a two week break that extends into the new year. On December 18th, the Red Flash used a hot second half to come from behind to defeat American 75-63. Darshan Luckey led the way with 23 points but it was Sonny Benton who scored seven of his seventeen points in a key 16-6 run that gave SFPA the lead for good. On December 21st, the Red Flash made it two in a row with a 66-62 victory at VMI. Leading by one with less than a minute to play, the Red Flash hit four straight free throws down the stretch to ice the game. Jason Osbourne had a double-double with eighteen points and twelve rebounds. Darshan Luckey had 21 points to lead the team and earned NEC player of the week honors for his efforts. The Red Flash return to action on Saturday with a trip to Cornell and then face Nebraska to close out the non-conference season on Tuesday, also on the road.

Wagner Seahawks (3-7, 0-0 NEC)

After a slow start, the Seahawks finally appear to have turned the corner under new head coach Mike Deane. Wagner opened the season with six straight losses, including a 83-62 setback at Florida State on December 18th. In that game, the Seahawks kept it close in the first half and trailed by only seven at the break but an 18-0 Seminole run in the second half squashed any thoughts of winning. Then the Seahawks ripped off three straight wins. The first came over NAIA power Georgetown KY on December 20th 63-60. Wagner led by ten at the break and by as many as twelve in the second half before a cold stretch allowed Georgetown to get back in the game and ultimately take the lead. Trailing by three with a minute and a half to play, Doug Viegas hit both end of a one-and-one and Courtney Pritchard who had missed the better part of the previous two games came away with a big steal which led to a bucket and the lead. Georgetown could not find the basket on their last couple possessions and the Seahawks had their first win. Viegas led the team with thirteen points and Pritchard chipped in with nine points and six assists, including the big assist on the winning basket. A big blow was discovered after the game when Viegas had to go to the hospital and be treated for a lacerated kidney; he is expected to miss the rest of the season. The Seahawks picked up their next win over Chicago State on December 22nd. Trailing by six in the second half, they used a 13-4 run to seemingly take control of the game. But the Cougar’s Royce Parrin hit a three pointer as time expired to tie the score and send it into overtime. But Wagner controlled the extra frame and won the game 75-68. Pritchard had eighteen points, nine of which game in the run at the end of regulation. Teoine Carroll had 22 points with a couple big threes in overtime to put the game out of reach. The last of the three wins came over Albany on December 30th 69-59. The Seahawks trailed by 21 points in the first half but rallied to cut the lead to twelve at the break. In the second half, Pritchard again sparked a key run. This time he scored ten points in a 12-2 run that would give his team the lead for good. January 2nd marked the final non-conference game against Lehigh and the Seahawks hoped to bring a four game win streak into conference play but it was not to be. Wagner had an eight point lead just before halftime but a 29-4 run that spanned the two halves buried them. The Seahawks fought back to make the game respectable but could not dig themselves completely out of the huge hole. Courtney Pritchard had 22 points on 8-15 shooting in the 64-59 loss but the rest of the team shot a miserable 29 percent. Conference play begins on Wednesday with a trip to Sacred Heart.


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