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Northeast Conference Notebook

January 19, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Northeast Conference Notebook

by Keith Burdette

The last week of non-conference play featured several games against the Ivy League which NEC teams split. First was the Monmouth-Princeton game mentioned in last week’s article where Princeton won going away 67-52. Central Connecticut State took on Brown last Friday but lost 79-58 in a game that was never really close. But the NEC bounced back Wednesday when Sacred Heart crushed Harvard and Quinnipiac knocked out Dartmouth. The Pioneers fell behind early but were able to erase the Harvard lead by halftime and then raced out to the 91-69 win. The Big Green held Quinnipiac in check for most of their game and led by six in the second half when the Bobcats went on an 11-0 run to take the lead. Down the stretch, the Bobcats made their free throws and won the game 69-60.

Conference play is now in full swing and every team has finally started their conference slate. Two teams remain undefeated. Central Connecticut State is one of the two teams but they’ve only played one game. Monmouth is the other and they got their third win at Saint Francis NY on Thursday in a game that went down to the wire. Last year’s champ Wagner is still looking for their first win having dropped their first three conference games. Friday night, Long Island and Quinnipiac battled for the first conference win between them with Long Island coming away with the win at home. Currently, seven teams have winning records in conference play and with only eight teams making the conference tournament, two of my preseason favorites Wagner and Quinnipiac are in serious jeopardy.

Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (4-4, 1-0 NEC)

The Blue Devils split their last two games, losing to Brown 79-58 and beating Mount St. Mary’s 80-68 for their first conference win. Few bright spots came from the game against Brown in which the Blue Devils never led and were down by as much as 34 before a late run made it somewhat closer. T. Ron Christy scored twelve points off the bench and Ron Robinson was the only other player in double figures with eleven points. It seemed like the hangover from the loss at Brown continued through the first half of the next game against Mount St. Mary when CCSU fell behind by nineteen. But a 14-3 run in the second half gave the Blue Devils their first lead since early in the first half and that was followed by a 17-4 run to put the game away. Ron Robinson led the way with 23 points and thirteen rebounds while Justin Chiera scored 22. The Blue Devils will try to stay perfect in conference with a game at home against St. Francis NY on Saturday and on the road against Long Island on Monday.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (7-5, 2-1 NEC)

The last week saw the Knights split two conference games. Saturday, Gordon Klaiber scored 21 points but FDU lost at Sacred Heart 73-69. The Knights lead by seven points late but the Pioneers tied it and then took advantage of a possession where the Knights missed three out of four free throws, two coming from a technical foul. On the next trip down the court, a traditional three point play from Zach Spivey gave SHU a lead they would never relinquish. Chad Timberlake added thirteen points in the loss. The Knights bounced back with a 57-55 win at Wagner on Monday. The Knights came out on top of a sluggish first half where both team shot under 30 percent but the Seahawks came out with a run early in the second half to take the lead. After trading the lead back and forth through the middle part of the second half, Tamien Trent gave the Knights the lead for good with just under five minutes to go and Marcus Whitaker hit a big shot as the shot clock wound down with under a minute to play to seal the win. Trent led the way with seventeen points and Klaiber scored thirteen for the only two players in double figures. This week starts a stretch of three straight at home with Robert Morris coming on Saturday and St. Francis PA coming on Monday.

Long Island Blackbirds (5-9, 1-4 NEC)

It took them five games, but the Blackbirds finally got their first conference win against Quinnipiac on Friday. That was only after a road swing that saw two losses in Pennsylvania. Last Saturday, LIU lost to Robert Morris 79-57 in what might have been their poorest showing this season. No Blackbird reached double figures and they put up a season-low in rebounds and three-point percentage. St. Francis PA beat them on Monday 61-56. Raymond Edwards scored 20 points including fourteen in the second half but it was Esa Maki-Tulokas who missed a tying three with nine seconds to play. The Blackbirds out-shot SFPA but turned the ball over 20 times to negate that advantage. Freshman James Williams added fifteen points in the loss. The Blackbirds then opened a six game home-stand with the aforementioned win over Quinnipiac. LIU was in control for most of the game, but the Bobcats used a late surge to pull ahead by one with 1:21 to play. But the next possession saw Maki-Tulokas feed James Williams for a three to give LIU the lead back and the defense held on for the win. Williams scored a career-high 20 points and Raymond Edwards also had a big day with 21 points and ten boards. Central Connecticut State comes to town on Monday to continue the home-stand.

Monmouth Hawks (9-5, 3-0 NEC)

The Hawks sandwiched two conference road wins around a tough overtime loss. Last Saturday, the Hawks came out of the gates slowly against Wagner but used a 19-4 run midway through the first half to take a nine point lead. This was just the start of the see-saw action as the Seahawks would tie it before the half closed but the Hawks would build the lead back up to six at the break. The lead reached double digits in the second half before Wagner cut it to two with a 10-0 run ending with six minutes to play. But the Seahawks could get no closer as Monmouth extended the lead to seven just a minute later and held on for the 70-66 win. Dwayne Byfield scored eighteen points to lead all scorers and Marques Alston added twelve points off the bench. Monday brought an overtime loss to Rutgers, a team who had lost to Hoopville Number one UConn by a single point the week before. The Hawks built a ten point lead in the first half which was whittled to one by halftime. Rutgers took control in the second half and seemed to be on their way to an easy win. But up seven with minimal time to play, Byfield hit a lay-up to cut the lead to five and Blake Hamilton made it a one possession game with just under a minute to play with a lay-up of his own. Byfield had a chance to tie it with 22 seconds to go but missed a three from the top of the arc. Rutgers missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Hawks another chance and Byfield capitalized by hitting a three from the baseline with 2.8 seconds to go. Monmouth took an early lead in the overtime but Rutgers would ultimately gain control and came out with a 78-75 win. Brian Boxler scored seventeen points in the loss and Chris Kenny added fourteen points off the bench. Thursday, the Hawks returned to conference action against St. Francis NY. Much like the game against Wagner, this game saw several big swings for both teams. Monmouth used a 16-2 run in the first half to take a big lead which the Terriers sliced to two at halftime. The Hawks stretched the lead up to seven only to see the Terriers tie the score at 48. The Hawks then built a nine point lead before a 15-2 run in the other direction gave SFNY a four point lead. But a timeout cooled off the Terriers and a 9-2 run to end the game gave Monmouth a 72-69 win. Blake Hamilton torched St. Francis for 29 points and only Jason Krayl joined him in double figures at ten points. Two home games are on the schedule this week as St. Francis PA and Robert Morris come on Saturday and Monday.

Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (3-10, 1-2 NEC)

The Mountaineers were able to pick up their first conference win last Saturday 83-72 over Quinnipiac. Landy Thompson was unconscious and scored a career high 35 points including 23 points in the first half when the Mount took control of the game. The Bobcats made it close in the second but Thompson scored a key basket that sparked a run to seal the game. Of Thompson’s 35 points, eighteen came from the line to set a new school record. Mychal Kearse scored thirteen points as the only other Mountaineer in double figures. The Mount were able to extend the momentum into the next game against Central Connecticut State and built a nineteen points lead in the first half. But a strong second half from the Blue Devils including a key 17-4 run near the end of the game offset 28 points from Landy Thompson in the 80-68 loss. Once again, Thompson had little support as only Kiel Butler joined him in double figures with ten points. Sacred Heart and Wagner come to Maryland this week for games on Saturday and Monday.

Quinnipiac Bobcats (4-10, 0-3 NEC)

The Bobcats sandwiched two conference losses around a win over Dartmouth this past week. Last Saturday, the Bobcats fell to Mount St. Mary’s 83-72. Rob Monroe scored 24 points but it wasn’t enough as the Mount built a huge lead in the first half and held off a run in the second half to get the win. The Bobcats turned the ball over 26 times and sent the Mountaineers to the free throw line a whopping 40 times in the loss. Freshman Dale Meinbresse scored ten points for a career high but also turned the ball over eight times. The second conference loss came to Long Island on Friday night 81-78. Rob Monroe again led the way with 22 points as every starter reached double figures. After trailing for much of the game, the Bobcats used a late run to take the lead. Kason Mims hit two free throws with just over a minute to play to give Bobcats a one point lead but the Blackbirds answered with a three pointer to get the lead right back. Monroe missed a three at the buzzer that would have tied the game. In the game against Dartmouth Wednesday, Rashaun Banjo kept his team in the game with 24 points while Monroe and Mims sputtered to 2 for 9 and 2 for 11 performances. The Big Green had control of the game midway through the second half but an 11-0 run that included a huge three pointer by Van Crafton gave the Bobcats a lead they would never lose. Down the stretch, Quinnipiac pounded the ball inside to Banjo and CJ Vick to take advantage of the undersized Dartmouth frontcourt. In the 69-60 win, the Bobcats out-shot Dartmouth 37 to 9 from the free throw line and out-rebounded them 45-29. The game was a rematch of a game played in the Hawaii-Hilo Tournament which the Bobcats also won 65-64. The two wins over Dartmouth are the only two over Division I opponents this season. DIII Manhattanville and DII Hawaii-Hilo are the sources of the other two wins. The only game on the schedule this week is a Wednesday tilt versus Sacred Heart.

Robert Morris Colonials (5-7, 2-1 NEC)

The Colonials split two conference games at home this week. Saturday night, they beat Long Island 79-57. RMU raced out to a 17-5 lead and never really were challenged. Chaz McCrommon scored seventeen points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists in a solid all-around effort. Aaron Thomas also added seventeen points, including a bucket early in the game which accounted for his thousandth career point. Against St. Francis NY on Monday, the Colonials again raced out to an early 23-7 lead. But the Terriers were up to the task and fought back to within three at halftime. A run early in the second half gave SFNY a lead they would hold the rest of the game. After cutting the lead down to one with twelve and a half minutes to play, RMU went frigid and failed to hit a field goal for the next twelve minutes which allowed the Terriers to put the game away and win 74-58. The Colonials were led by fourteen points from Christopher Gooden and eleven points a piece from Chaz McCrommon and Maurice Carter. The game marked the first loss at home this season. It’s to the road this weekend to face Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday and Monmouth on Monday. The Colonials are the only NEC team who was yet to pick up a road win this season.

Sacred Heart Pioneers (7-6, 3-1 NEC)

By winning the two games this week, the Pioneers are in the middle of their first three game win streak as a Division I program. They opened the week with a 73-69 win over Fairleigh Dickinson. Maurice Bailey scored 23 points and Tre Samuels added eighteen points and eleven rebounds. SHU opened up a five point lead at halftime but the Knights seized control of the game in the second half and led by as many as seven before the Pioneers fought back for a 66-66 tie. Kibwe Trim scored twelve points in only thirteen minutes but fouled out at this juncture and got a technical foul to give the Knights four free throws. But FDU would only hit one of the four and Zach Spivey came back down the court and scored a big bucket and a free throw to give the Pioneers the lead for good. Coupled with his 26 points against Wagner on January 7th, Maurice Bailey earned NEC player of the week honors. Joey Henley made it a sweep of the major weekly awards when he earned NEC rookie of the week honors for a thirteen point-five rebound effort against Wagner and a six point-five rebound effort against FDU. The Pioneers closed out their non-conference season with a 91-69 win over Harvard on Wednesday. Maurice Bailey led all scorers with 22 points while Jarrid Frye, Joey Henley and Kibwe Trim all came off the bench to score in double figures. The Pioneers fell behind early in the first half but took the lead for good on a three from Zach Spivey with just over six minutes to play in the first half. SHU hits the road for two games this week, Saturday at Mount St. Mary’s and Wednesday at Quinnipiac.

St. Francis NY Terriers (6-8, 3-2 NEC)

After a hot start in conference play, the Terriers slid back to seventh in the conference standings with two losses this past week. The Terriers lost the battle of St. Francis’ on Saturday 74-65. The first half looked like SFNY would walk away with an easy win; but after scoring only sixteen points in the first half, the Red Flash exploded for 58 in the second and buried the Terriers in the process. John Quintana scored seventeen points and Christian Brown added fourteen in the losing effort. In the next game out against Robert Morris, pretty much the exact opposite happened. The Colonials were hot in the early part of the first half and built a sixteen point lead. The Terriers shot over 60 percent in the first half to stay in the game and trailed by only three at the break. RMU went ice cold in the second half and shot 4-21, including a twelve minute stretch without a field goal. SFNY took advantage and cruised to a 74-58 win. John Quintana again led the way with 16 points as four different Terriers scored in double figures. Thursday against Monmouth, the Hawks built a double digit lead in the first half and again the Terriers clawed back to within two at halftime. The Hawks used two separate runs to try and pull away in the second, but SFNY reeled them in each time. The Terriers countered a 13-4 run with a 15-2 run that gave them their first lead of the second half. Blake Hamilton would score the next six points in the game to give the Hawks back the lead. Christian Brown tied the score back at 69 only to see Hamilton answer with the game-winning basket. Quintana had a key turnover and missed a three in the last 30 seconds and Monmouth would come away with a 72-69 win. Quintana scored 26 points but also committed seven turnovers. Mike Wilson scored eleven points while Christian Brown scored thirteen points off the bench. The Terriers look to bounce back with their only game this week Saturday at Central Connecticut State.

St. Francis PA Red Flash (5-7, 2-1 NEC)

The Red Flash bounced back from two straight losses with two straight wins at home. They beat St. Francis NY on Saturday 74-65 in a very bizarre game. The Red Flash were dreadful in the first half, hitting only five shots and shooting 19 percent as a team. They trailed by twelve at halftime and came out in the second half on fire shooting 72 percent from the field, scoring 58 points. Rahsaan Benton came off the bench to score thirteen points, all in the second half to lead the charge. Jason Osborne led the way with 22 points and twelve rebounds for a double-double. On Monday, the Red Flash made it a sweep by defeating Long Island 61-56. With the game tied at halftime, Darshan Luckey scored six points in a 12-2 run to open the second half. From there on out, the Blackbirds could get no closer than one and Luckey hit his free throws down the stretch to preserve the win. Luckey led the way with sixteen points and a season-high nine rebounds. Rahsaan Benton and Erick Wills both added eleven points. This week finds SFPA traveling to New Jersey to take on Monmouth Saturday and Fairleigh Dickinson on Monday.

Wagner Seahawks (3-10, 0-3 NEC)

The Seahawks dropped two close contests this week and are still looking for their first conference win of the season. Wagner jumped out to an 11-5 lead over Monmouth on Saturday before the Hawks used a 19-4 run to take the lead. The Seahawks were able to keep the score close, tying it at 34 late in the first half, but Monmouth built the lead back up to six at halftime. The Hawks built the lead to twelve in second half before Wagner cut it down to two with just over six minutes to play. Monmouth built the lead back to seven before Courtney Pritchard hit a three to cut the lead back to four but Monmouth answered with a three of their own. Pritchard and Teoine Carroll missed three pointers down the stretch which would have closed the gap but instead allowed the Hawks to pull out the 70-66 win. Pritchard led the Seahawks with 14 points and Nigel Wyatte added a double-double with thirteen points and twelve rebounds. On Monday, the Seahawks dropped another game to Fairleigh Dickinson 57-55. Wagner built an eight point lead coming out of halftime but couldn’t sustain the lead and FDU quickly came back to take the lead at 40-39. The teams traded leads over the next part of the second half until Tamien Trent hit a shot to give the Knights a 48-47 lead, ultimately building the lead to four with three minutes to play. Pritchard hit a three to cut the lead back to one and then made three of four free throws around Knight baskets to cut the lead to two. Gadi Buch missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Seahawks a chance to send the game into overtime. DeEarnest McLemore missed a thirteen footer that would have tied the score and FDU held on for the win. Wagner will travel to Mount Saint Mary’s on Monday in hopes to pick up their first conference win.

     

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