Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the Northeast Conference.
A Look Back
The top spot is decided, as Long Island clinched the regular season title on the road last week. In the NEC, the top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament. The individual games are at the home court of the higher seed, and this week’s action will have bearing on that all important seeding. Heading into the final week, three teams are battling for the number four spot. Another three are in the hunt for the eighth and final seed. Wagner could finish anywhere from the second to seventh seed, depending on how the week plays out. Two days of action are left, and scoreboard-watching will be very much in vogue in the NEC.
1. LIU (22-5, 14-2) The Blackbirds won twice away from home to wrap up the conference, edging Wagner 83-79 before an ‘easier’ win at Mount St. Mary’s, 84-64. The Blackbirds are averaging 75 possessions per game and were over 70 in both games the past week. Efficiency margin was modest, +5 (109-104) at Wagner. The EM at the Mount was outstanding, +27 with a 115-88 difference. Despite the ‘NASCAR’ pace, the offensive TO rate is a vanilla 21% on the season.
Notable: Freshman point guard Jason Brickman was selected NEC Rookie of the Week. Brickman averaged 8.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2 steals and had only three turnovers in 63 minutes for the Blackbirds.
2. Quinnipiac (19-8, 11-5 overall) A clean sweep on the road. The Bobcats defeated Bryant 80-60 before getting a nailbiter, 68-67 , at CCSU. Efficiency margin was an outstanding +31 (125-94) in the win at Bryant. At Central Connecticut, the margin was more down to earth at +1 (106-105). The Bobcats had a 23% TO rate in the Bryant win, but that was offset by an outstanding 61% eFG percentage. The Offensive rebounding percentage in that game was 40-24% in Quinnipiac’s favor.
Notable: James Johnson averaged 17 points for the week. The senior guard scored 24 points against Bryant, going 7-11 from three point range. Johnson has the Quinnipiac Division-I record with 91 consecutive games started.
3. Central Connecticut (18-9, 11-5). If nail-biters are your specialty, Central was the team to watch. The Blue Devils split at home, edging Sacred Heart 57-56 before falling 68-67 to Quinnipiac. The efficiencies mirrored the closeness of the scores. CCSU enjoyed an 86-85 advantage against Sacred Heart and was on the short end of a 106-105 offensive efficiency against Quinnipiac. The Blue Devils forced Sacred heart into a 32% TO rate.
Notable: Ken Horton, the NEC Co-Player of the Week, averaged 26.5 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. The junior forward scored a career high 35 points against Quinnipiac.
4. Robert Morris (14-13, 10-6). A good road weekend was had by RMU with victories at Fairleigh Dickinson (74-50) and Monmouth (62-60). The Colonials enjoyed a +38 (117-79) efficiency margin in the win at FDU. The TO rate in that game was an outstanding 6%. The Monmouth game was a tougher go as the Colonial TO rate increased to 26% and the host Hawks enjoyed a 56% eFG showing.
Notable: Russell Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, hit a jumper with 3.3 seconds left to defeat Monmouth. Johnson finished with 13 points, 9 rebounds and three assists. Sophomore forward Lijah Thompson averaged 13.5 points, 5 rebounds on the week.
5. Wagner (13-14, 9-7) The Seahawks lost two at the friendly confines of the Spiro Center. LIU defeated Wagner 83-79 before St. Francis (NY) emerged a 77-73 victor. Averaging 69 possessions per game, both outings were faster than the norm. The Pace was 76 and 71 possessions in the respective meetings. Wagner shot a gaudy 61% eFG mark against St. Francis but were guilty of a 28% TO rate, six percentage points above the season‘s average.
Notable: A three-pointer with three seconds remaining by Chris Martin forced overtime against LIU. Martin finished with 16 points, 14 after halftime. Latif Rivers, a freshman guard, enjoyed an 18 point, six-rebound, five-assist day against the Blackbirds.
6. St. Francis (NY) (13-14, 8-8). The flair for the dramatic. The Terriers captured road games over Mount St. Mary’s, 63-60 and Wagner 77-73. St. Francis averages 98 in offensive efficiency and was over 100, highlighted by the 108 at Wagner, both games. On the defensive end, they allowed a 99 efficiency. The TO rate was only 15% at the Mount. On defense, the Terriers force opponents into a 25% To rate. At Wagner that defensive number was above average at 28%.
Notable: Senior guard Ricky Cadell earned NEC Co-Player of the Week accolades averaging 22 PPG for the two games. The Terriers clinched an NEC tournament berth and Cadell scored 13 points the final three minutes in the win at Wagner.
7. Mount St. Mary’s (10-19, 8-8) missed a chance to move up. The Mount suffered two home losses, to St. Francis (NY) 63-60 and LIU 84-64. The efficiency margin was a -5 against St. Francis but a whopping -27 (88-115) in the LIU meeting. The Mount had an impressive 57% eFG showing in the St. Francis game. Both contests, though, saw the Mount post a high 23% TO rate.
Notable: Senior forward Shawn Atupem scored 23 points against LIU on Senior Day. Atupem is coming on strong of late. Over the last five games he is averaging 15.2 points and shooting 73% from the floor.
8. Bryant (9-19, 7-9). Two games dropped at home. Quinnipiac defeated Bryant 80-60 before Sacred Heart squeaked by 83-77. Bryant averages 99 in offensive efficiency and exploded for a 126 against Sacred Heart. Bulldogs TO rate has been under 20% the last three games. Despite a one-sided loss to Quinnipiac, the Bulldogs did force a 23% defensive TO rate in that meeting. Both recent opponents also shot over 60% eFG percentage against Bryant.
Notable: Senior swingman Cecil Gresham averaged 20 points for the two games. Gresham scored a season-high 29 points against Sacred Heart on Bryant’s Senior Day.
9. St. Francis (PA) (8-19, 6-10) came up short, 57-51 at Monmouth but bounced back for a 77-65 victory at FDU. The EM (efficiency margin) was -11 at Monmouth, but a few days later, it improved dramatically to +19 (122-103) in the victory at FDU. The Red Flash were strapped with a 25% TO rate at Monmouth. Against FDU, the offense was in better synch. St. Francis To rate was only 19% and their eFG percentage, a sparking 67%.
Notable: A deadly three point shooter, sophomore guard Umar Shannon exploded for 25 points on 7-10 from beyond the arc. In the win at FDU. Shannon added 5 rebounds and two assists.
10. Sacred Heart (10-17, 5-11) – The Pioneers were one for two on the road. They dropped a close one, 57-56 at Central Connecticut. Sacred Heart rebounded to defeat Bryant 83-77. After posting an 85 offensive efficiency at CCSU, Sacred Heart had a season high 136 at Bryant. A 65% eFG percentage and a fine 18% TO rate helped the offensive cause. The defense was a season high in opposition efficiency as Bryant rang up a 126 in that contest.
Notable: Inserted as a starter four games ago, freshman forward Louis Montes has made an impact. Montes is averaging 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and shooting 62% from the field during that stretch.
11. Monmouth (9-19, 5-11) Took a home split. The Hawks downed St. Francis (PA) 57-51 and were nosed out by Robert Morris 62-60. Monmouth had an outstanding 86 defensive efficiency against St. Francis. That contest was a deliberate, even by Monmouth’s 65 average standard, 59 possession affair. Hawks’ defense gave up a 102 efficiency mark to Robert Morris, but hung close, as the Colonials were guilty of a 26% TO rate.
Notable: Jesse Steele came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points against St. Francis (PA). The sophomore guard averaged 16 points, 3.5 assists and had no turnovers in the two games.
12. FDU (2-14, 4-23) Two home losses, to Robert Morris 74-50 and St. Francis (PA) 77-65. The Knights have lost ten straight and 20 of 21. Defensive woes continued as the last two opponents were over 50% eFG and under 20% in TO rate. FDU had a -38 (79-117) efficiency margin against Robert Morris and -19 (103-122) in the St. Francis (PA) contest.
Notable: John Galvin scored his 600th point and Terence Grier his 800th in a senior day loss to St. Francis (PA). Galvin had his fourth double-double of the season in that game with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
A Look Ahead
- Mount St. Mary’s at Robert Morris
- FDU at Sacred Heart
- Bryant at LIU
- Wagner at St. Francis (PA)
- Central Connecticut at St. Francis (NY)
- Monmouth at Quinnipiac
- Central Connecticut at LIU
- FDU at Quinnipiac
- Monmouth at Sacred Heart
- Bryant at St. Francis (NY)
- Monmouth at St. Francis (PA)
- Wagner at Robert Morris