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Northeast Conference Notebook

January 14, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Northeast Conference Notebook

by Keith Burdette

Conference games and blowouts at the hands of BCS schools marked this past week’s action. Mount Saint Mary, St. Francis PA and Long Island all got trounced this past week and look to recover in conference. As of now, every team has played a conference game except Central Connecticut State. So far the home team has won all but one game and the average margin of victory is 6.6 points. Two teams have jumped out to early advantages with their conference play to this point. Fairleigh Dickinson has the only conference road win and St. Francis NY has two wins, including a big win over one of the preseason favorites Quinnipiac at the semi-neutral Madison Square Garden. Monmouth picked up their first conference win over Sacred Heart on Saturday which prevented the Pioneers from starting 3-0. That win plus an RPI ranking of 82, the only NEC to team crack the top hundred, makes the Hawks the choice in early bracket projections. But there are far too many games left to play to set that in stone.

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

In another light week of action, the Blue Devils won their only game at Loyola MD 67-62 for their first road win this season. CCSU led by six at the break and by as many as thirteen in the second half. A late charge from the Greyhounds and some missed free throws cut the lead to just one with under a minute to play; but Lenny Jefferson hit 6 straight free throws in the final minute to preserve the win. Rich Pittman led the way with fourteen points and Ron Robinson added thirteen points. Robinson also had nine rebounds and moved pass Rik Smits into the top ten of the NEC’s career leaders in rebounds. One last tough non-conference game remains before diving headfirst into conference play. A trip to Providence to face Brown, a team who made the NIT last year, is on Friday. The conference season opens at home against Mount Saint Mary’s on Monday.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (6-4, 1-0 NEC)

The Knights won their only game last week 57-48 over Army. FDU victimized a zone in the first half and hit 60 percent of their threes to take a big lead into the break. Army cut the lead to two at one point in the second half but could not get any closer. Marcus Whitaker led the way with sixteen points, including five threes and also dished out seven assists. Chad Timberlake was the only other Knight to reach double figures with ten points. With the win, FDU finished the non-conference season over .500. This week its on the road for two conference games, at Sacred Heart on Saturday and at Wagner on Monday.

Long Island Blackbirds (4-7, 0-2 NEC)

The Blackbirds flew all the way out to Texas this week for their only game against Texas A&M. LIU got schooled by potential lottery pick Antoine Wright to the tune of 25 points in a game that was never really close after the second media timeout. In the 89-63 loss, Raymond Edwards scored fourteen points to lead the team and got thirteen points in 38 minutes from freshman James Williams. The game with the Aggies marked the end of non-conference play. The Blackbirds finish a six game road stretch this week with the Pennsylvania swing of conference games, Saturday at Robert Morris and Monday at St. Francis PA.

Monmouth Hawks (7-4, 1-0 NEC)

How impressive is Monmouth’s RPI ranking of 82? Its lower than teams like Marquette, Texas and Purdue, all ranked in the Hoopville top 25. The Hawks won their first conference game of the year last Saturday 74-61over Sacred heart, using sixteen Pioneer turnovers in the second half to erase a two point deficit at halftime. Blake Hamilton led four players in double figures with twenty points and added a career high twelve rebounds. But the Monmouth couldn’t keep the momentum going and dropped their next contest to Princeton 67-52. Trailing by only four at the break, the Hawks tied the game early in the second half but then witnessed a 14-2 run that they struggled to recover from. For the game, The Tigers shot 52 percent while the Hawks barely broke 30 percent. Blake Hamilton scored seventeen points with fifteen of them coming from the charity stripe to offset his 1-9 field goal performance. Chris Kenny added fourteen points off the bench; take away his 5-8 shooting and the team drops to less than 25 percent from the field. Monmouth looks to bounce back on the road against Wagner on Saturday and then finishes the non-conference season with a rescheduled game against Rutgers on Tuesday.

Mount Saint Mary’s Mountaineers (2-9, 0-1 NEC)

The Mount struggled in their only game this week, losing to Maryland 89-56. The Terrapins out-rebounded the Mount 55-34 and held them to 29 percent shooting, including a 2-15 outing from leading scorer Landy Thompson. Antonio Johnson came off the bench to score thirteen points to lead the team. The game marked the last non-conference game of the season as the Mountaineers travel to Connecticut for a tough stretch of road conference games this week. Quinnipiac is on the schedule Saturday and both teams will be looking for their first conference win. Central Connecticut State will be the foe on Monday. Mychal Kearse earned NEC Rookie of the week which was based on the two week stretch of games that ended last Sunday, particularly his double-double against Navy December 27th which helped lift the Mount to a one point win.

Quinnipiac Bobcats (3-8, 0-1 NEC)

Despite three strong individual efforts, the Bobcats dropped their first conference game of the year Saturday to St. Francis NY at Madison Square Garden. Rob Monroe scored 26 points, Rashaun Banjo scored 24 points and grabbed eleven rebounds while CJ Vick scored ten points and grabbed thirteen boards but little help came from the rest of the team as the Bobcats lost 74-69. Trailing by three at the break, Quinnipiac managed to fight back and take the lead at the midpoint of the second half but went cold and the Terriers regained the lead and never looked back. The Bobcats used a DIII opponent to get back on track, crushing Manhattanville 94-57 last Monday. Rashaun Banjo and Van Crafton each broke the twenty point barrier while Rob Monroe dished out thirteen assists. Conference play resumes this weekend with Mount Saint Mary’s coming to town on Saturday. Next Wednesday marks the final non-conference game and the second game against Dartmouth this season. In other news, Quinnipiac learned that they will be the NEC’s representative in the Preseason NIT in 2004. It will be the first time the Bobcats have participated in the tournament.

Robert Morris Colonials (4-6, 1-0 NEC)

The Colonials continued their struggles on the road this week, losing at Eastern Kentucky 67-58 on Saturday. RMU dominated the first half, shooting 50 percent from the field and held a 35-24 lead at halftime. EKU came back in the second half and took the lead 47-46 on a three-point play after which the teams exchanged leads a couple times. The Colonials took their last lead at 57-56 with under five minutes to play but failed to hit a field goal the rest of the game which allowed the Colonels to get the lead and the win. Maurice Carter had nineteen points to lead the way and Aaron Thomas joined him with eighteen points as the only Colonials in double figures. RMU bounced back on Tuesday with a win over Bucknell to keep their record perfect at home. The Colonials took an early lead and pretty much controlled the entire game. Every Bison run was countered by a run to build the lead back up. RMU didn’t panic when the Bison tied it early in the second half or when they took the lead midway through the second. In the 74-67 win, Carter again paced the Colonials with 21 points. Chaz McCrommon rebounded from an eight point effort against EKU to score fifteen points. A three game home stand continues with conference foes coming to town. Long Island comes on Saturday and St. Francis NY is in town on Monday.

Sacred Heart Pioneers (5-6, 2-1 NEC)

The Pioneers split a pair of conference games this week. Last Saturday, they lost at Monmouth 74-61. Omar Wellington led SHU to a 34-32 with fourteen points at halftime but was held scoreless in the second half when the Hawks took control of the game. Maurice Bailey scored seventeen points but the Pioneers were out-rebounded 40-30 and turned the ball over nineteen times to only eight assists. Wednesday, they came back from a nine point deficit in the first half to beat Wagner 81-70. The game was a complete reversal from the effort against Monmouth. The Pioneers used 57 percent shooting in the second half to put the Seahawks away. Maurice bailey scored 26 points, 24 of which came in the second half. SHU also took care of the basketball, turning it over only seven times while forcing 22 from Wagner. Fairleigh Dickinson comes to town on Saturday night and then Harvard comes next Wednesday for the final non-conference game.

St. Francis (NY) Terriers (5-6, 2-0 NEC)

With two more wins last week, the Terriers have now won four straight games. Saturday, they defeated Quinnipiac at Madison Square Garden 74-69. The Terriers led for much of the first half, including a three-point advantage at the break. When the Bobcats took the lead in the second half, SFNY used a 12-0 run to take back the lead and put away the Bobcats. John Cavalieri led the way with 21 points and Mike Wilson also scored 20 points. Paired with his efforts in December against Mount Saint Mary’s and Cornell, Cavalieri earned NEC player of the week honors. He averaged 16.7 points in the three games, all wins for the Terriers. The fourth straight victory came over Army on Tuesday 68-54. Cavalieri, Wilson and John Quintana combined to go 4-27 from the field but Sean Dantzler came off the bench to score 22 points and Devon Neckles scored twelve points to pace the Terriers. SFNY controlled the entire game and used eighteen offensive rebounds to offset the poor shooting night. The game versus Army marked the last non-conference game of the season. Up next is a trip to Pennsylvania with the battle of St. Francis’ on Saturday and then Robert Morris on Monday.

St. Francis (PA) Red Flash (3-7, 0-1 NEC)

A two week break was the last thing the Red Flash needed. Before the holiday break, SFPA had reeled off two straight wins; but the new year greeted them with two straight losses. In the first game against Cornell on Saturday, the Red Flash fell behind early and struggled to erase the deficit. They managed to tie the score late in the first half, but the Big Red answered with three pointers on consecutive possessions to build it back up. The second half was more of the same and the Red Flash cut the lead down to two before the Big Red used a late 12-0 to put the game away. In the 70-62 loss, Darshan Luckey led the way with eighteen points. The Red Flash traveled to Nebraska on Tuesday for their last non-conference game and got a rude greeting from the locals. The Cornhuskers shot a blistering 66 percent and used their nationally ranked defense to hold the Red Flash to 28 percent shooting. In the 93-49 loss, only four players scored. Darshan Luckey scored 22 points and Rashaan Benton added fifteen points off the bench. SFPA will have to put that game behind them with Long Island and the other St. Francis coming to town this weekend.

Wagner Seahawks (3-8, 0-1 NEC)

The Seahawks dropped their only game this week, their conference opener at Sacred Heart, 81-70. They had four players in double figures, including Teoine Carroll’s 22 points. They even grabbed fifteen more rebounds than the Pioneers but turned the ball over 22 times which led to 25 Pioneers points. Wagner held the lead at halftime but committed most of those turnovers in the second half which allowed SHU to come back. The Jersey schools come to town this week with Monmouth on Saturday and Fairleigh Dickinson on Monday.


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