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February 4, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Northeast Conference Notebook

by Keith Burdette

With a three game sweep at home this weekend, St. Francis NY cemented themselves as the first place team in the NEC. Victories over Sacred Heart, Robert Morris and St. Francis PA have put them a game-and-a-half ahead of second place Monmouth. Not much was expected from the Terriers after losing their top three scorers from a team that made it all the way to the finals of the NEC tournament.

First Team ALL-NEC performer Clifford Strong, leading scorer Bronski Dockery and third leading scorer Chris Sockwell all departed from a team that went only 9-9 in league play and 14-16 overall. Only two freshmen were recruited to the team and they’ve played a grand total of 25 minutes so the missing roles are being filled by guys stepping up from last year. John Quintana averaged 8.3 points per game last year in only 16 minutes per game and was named to the All-Rookie team. This year he’s doubled his minutes and his scoring average to lead the team. Mike Wilson has nearly doubled his scoring average from last year and is second on the team with just over 12 points per game. Tony Cavalieri, the only starter from last year still starting on a consistent basis this year, has basically the same stats as last year but upped his scoring to just under 10 points per game. But comparing the stats from last year, the Terriers are scoring fewer points, shooting at a poorer percentage and allowing more rebounds.

So what’s the difference? Last year, the Terriers opened the season with FOURTEEN straight games away from home. The first home game didn’t come until January 25th when they were 3-11 and seemingly out of contention. But they went 8-1 at home and finished in sixth place in the conference to set up their run through the NEC tournament. This year, the Terriers started off 1-6 but didn’t have the murderous road stretch and have won 11 of 13 since late December. Credit must be given to coach Ron Ganulin who has helped this team gel much sooner than expected. Ganulin has led SFNY to five straight appearances in the NEC tournament semifinals and is poised for the sixth straight trip this season but would like nothing more than to lead the Terriers to their first NCAA tournament appearance.

Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (6-10, 3-6 NEC)

It took three overtimes, but the Blue Devils finally stopped their long losing streak Monday at Mount Saint Mary’s. Obie Nwadike hit a bucket near the end of regulation to force the first overtime. Two Ron Robinson free throws with 20 seconds to go sent the game into the second overtime. Each team missed a chance to win in the last minute with the score tied in the second overtime. In the third, CCSU pulled away using offensive rebounds and won 90-82. Ron Robinson led the way with 21 points and eleven rebounds. Freshman walk-on Javier Mojica added a career-high eighteen points and seven rebounds. The losing streak had reached five games with a 78-61 loss at Monmouth on Saturday. The Blue Devils fell behind 13-0 in the first four minutes and never really recovered. Robinson had a double-double with fifteen points and thirteen rebounds but also committed eight of the team’s 28 turnovers. Both games were played without Rich Pittman who was forced to sit due to an undisclosed illness. Initial prognosis said he would be out at least seven days which would have him in action for the games this weekend but no word on his availability has been made. Without Pittman, the Blue Devils are down to three frontcourt players. This weekend, CCSU has a rematch with Monmouth at home on Thursday and then travels to Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday.

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (11-7, 6-3 NEC)

In their lone game last week, the Knights defeated Mount Saint Mary’s 62-56 in overtime. The Mount raced out to an early twelve point lead which FDU struggled to come back from. Down ten at the break, the Knights opened the half with a 27-11 run to take the lead, only to watch the Mount tie the game in the waning seconds. Neither team shot well in the overtime, but FDU controlled the boards and the free throw line to get the win. Gordon Klaiber had a double-double with eighteen points and twelve rebounds which coupled with a 31 point outburst last Monday against Quinnipiac earned him NEC player of the week honors. CCSU and Quinnipiac come to town this weekend before heading on the road to face Monmouth on Monday.

Long Island Blackbirds (7-12, 3-7 NEC)

The Blackbirds first game of the weekend saw them open with an 18-2 lead over Wagner. But the Seahawks chipped away at the lead and cut it down to 11 at halftime then used a big run during the second half to take the lead. James Williams missed a free throw in the last minute that would have tied the score and Wagner came away with a 71-68 win. Raymond Edwards led the team with fourteen points, ten of which came in the run to start the game. Saturday, LIU battled SFPA to a 26-26 tie at the break, but the Red Flash used a 16-4 run to start the second half and take control of the game. The Blackbirds could get no closer than seven after that and lost 73-64. Morgan Williams paced LIU with nineteen points including five three-pointers. The two-game skid was snapped on Monday with 89-76 win over Robert Morris. James Williams scored a career-high 25 points, 20 of which came in the second half when the Blackbirds jumped out to the lead. The win marked the end of a six game homestand which saw the first three conference wins and a 3-3 record. The next two are on the road, including the only game this weekend, a Thursday tilt against Mount Saint Mary’s.

Monmouth Hawks (12-7, 6-2 NEC)

The Hawks went undefeated this past week but managed to lose an entire game in the standings to first place St. Francis NY. While the Terriers swept three games, Monmouth beat Central Connecticut State 78-61 in their only game. The Hawks raced out to a 13-0 lead and never looked back, building the lead to as much as 24 in the second half. Chris Kenny and Dwayne Byfield led four players in double figures with fourteen points each as Monmouth shot 59 percent from the field. The Hawks have three games in hand over SFNY and will make two of them up this weekend. Thursday is a rematch at CCSU and then its back home for games with Quinnipiac and Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday and Monday.

Mount Saint Mary’s Mountaineers (4-15, 2-7 NEC)

The Mount played an extra half of basketball this weekend, but failed to come away with a victory. On Saturday, they built a twelve point first half lead over Fairleigh Dickinson only to have it evaporate in the second half. FDU took the lead late in the game but the Mount forced overtime and watched the Knights make seven of eight from the free throw line en route to a 62-56 win. Landy Thomson scored 20 points but was the only Mountaineer to reach double figures. Monday, the Mount lost in triple overtime to Central Connecticut State 90-82. They had the last shot in regulation, the first overtime and second overtime but failed to connect on each opportunity. The Blue Devils then raced out to an early lead in the third and held on for the win. Nick Dodson had a career-high 24 points in the losing effort. The Mount will try and stop their five-game losing streak with games at home versus Long Island and St. Francis NY this weekend.

Quinnipiac Bobcats (7-13, 3-6 NEC)

The Bobcats failed to capitalize on the last second win they had last Wednesday and dropped two games last week. Saturday, they lost to Sacred Heart 76-74 after building a nine point lead at the break. Kason Mims had 23 points and Rashaun Banjo had 21 points but the bench contributed only seven points which hurt when the Bobcats got into foul trouble in the second half. Monday, the Bobcats lost a nine point lead in the second half and watched Wagner sink two free throws late in the game for the 68-67 win. CJ Vick and Rob Monroe each had nineteen points but couldn’t get the final deuce for the win. This weekend its back on the road to finish a stretch of five straight on the road with games at Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth.

Robert Morris Colonials (8-10, 5-4 NEC)

With a chance to prove they belong in the upper echelon of NEC, the Colonials dropped two games this weekend. On Saturday they faced St. Francis NY with a chance to move into a tie for first place in the NEC. The teams battled a tie at 29 at halftime but the Terriers jumped out to an early seven point in the second half. The Colonials cut it a three a couple times only to watch SFNY answer with a run to build the lead back. As the half progressed, the Terriers wore down the Colonials and came out with a 79-66 win. Chaz McCrommon had 23 points in the loss. Monday against Long Island, RMU built a twelve point lead in the first half but then went cold at the end of the first half which allowed the Blackbirds to come back and take a two point lead into the break. The Colonials took the lead back early in the second half only to go cold again and the Blackbirds cashed in by taking control of the game. In the 89-76 loss, freshman Derek Coleman came off the bench to score 21 points to lead RMU. Maurice Carter scored twelve points, including his 1000th career point to become the third NEC player to accomplish the feat in the past couple weeks. The Colonials have two games at home against Sacred Heart and Wagner to try and snap the two-game losing streak.

Sacred Heart Pioneers (9-10, 5-5 NEC)

The Pioneers split two games last week to stay at .500 in league play. Thursday they fell to St. Francis 86-78. The Terriers built a thirteen point lead in the first half only to watch it be whittled to nothing at the midpoint of the second half. SFNY regained the lead soon after and held off all Pioneer runs. Joey Henley had his first career double-double with eighteen points and eleven rebounds and Maurice Bailey scored 20 points in the loss. Saturday they bounced back with a 76-74 win over Quinnipiac, avenging an earlier 28 point loss. The Bobcats led by nine at halftime but SHU took control of a see-saw second half in the last five minutes for the win. Maurice Bailey shot 3-17 from the field but backed that up with a 16-17 performance from the line to lead the Pioneers. Joey Henley scored seventeen points and grabbed nine points to sew up NEC rookie of the week honors. The nine overall wins mark the highest total since the move to Division I. They will try to add to that record with games at Robert Morris and St. Francis PA this weekend.

St. Francis (NY) Terriers (12-8, 9-2 NEC)

The Terriers made it six straight wins with a three game sweep this weekend. Thursday, Tony Cavalieri led six players in double figures with nineteen points in an 86-78 win over Sacred Heart. SFNY built a lead in the first half only to have the Pioneers tie it midway through the second half. But Cavalieri sparked a run to get the lead back for good. Saturday, John Quintana scored 24 points and Cavalieri had a double-double with twelve points and ten assists in a 79-66 win over Robert Morris. The Colonials kept it close until a late Terrier run helped ice the game. Monday, the Terriers built a 20 point lead in the first half and cruised to an 84-54 win over St. Francis PA. The win avenged an earlier loss at SFPA. Sean Dantzler had nineteen points to lead ten different players who reached the score sheet. SFNY hits the road to face Mount Saint Mary’s this Saturday in defense of their first place record.

St. Francis (PA) Red Flash (7-10, 4-4 NEC)

The Red Flash split two games in New York City this weekend to stay at .500 in the league. Saturday night they took out Long Island 73-64 behind a season-high 29 points from Darshan Luckey. Tied early in the second half, SFPA used a 14-2 run to seize control of the game. Free throws were the difference in the game as the Red Flash hit 20 of 25 in the second to hold off the Blackbirds. Monday, the Red Flash fell 84-54 to St. Francis NY. Darshan Luckey shot 2-10 and scored only ten points but still led the team. The Red Flash committed 21 turnovers and were out-rebounded 45-31 in the thumping. This weekend, SFPA welcomes Sacred Heart and Wagner to Pennsylvania.

Wagner Seahawks (7-11, 4-4 NEC)

The Seahawks picked up two big wins this weekend to move back to .500 in NEC play. Thursday, the Seahawks came back from down sixteen points in the first half to get the win. Trailing by one with just over a minute to play, Teoine Carroll hit the three that gave Wagner the lead for good. In the 71-68 win, Nigel Wyatte had nineteen points and fifteen rebounds in just the start of a huge weekend. Monday, he had 23 points and 21 rebounds in a 68-67 win over Quinnipiac. Courtney Pritchard hit two free throws with under twenty seconds remaining to cap an 11-4 over the last four minutes that erased a six point lead. This weekend it’s on the road to face St. Francis PA and Robert Morris.


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