We have the final NEC MBB tourney qualifier, more tiebreakers & a record-breaking performance!

Quite a night of NEC men’s hoops.

The NEC playoff race is still muddled as it pertains to seeding, though we now know the eight postseason participants and the four teams who will be hosting NEC quarterfinal games.

Before we get to deciphering the tiebreakers like the Zodiac code, congratulations must go out to Bryant freshman forward Alex Francis.  You may remember the five-time NEC Choice Hotels NEC Rookie of the Week.  A few weeks ago, he did this:

But tonight he was in another stratosphere with a record-breaking performance in a 94-85 loss to Long Island.  Francis stamped himself in the NEC recordbook after he exploded for 43 (!) points against the regular season champions.  Let’s get to the superlatives:

– Most points ever by an NEC freshman in a league game.
– Tied for ninth on the NEC’s all-time single-game list.
– Most points by an NEC competitor since LIU’s Antawn Dobie set the NEC record with 53 against St. Francis (NY) on February 22, 2003.
– His 20 FG is a new NEC single-game record.

Quite a game.  

A high-five also goes out to Saint Francis (PA)’s Will Felder, who had a career-high 30 points and pulled down 13 boards in an 84-78 win over Wagner that clinched the Red Flash an NEC Tournament berth. 

And how about FDU’s Terence Grier, who racked up a career-best 34 points as FDU snapped a 14-game NEC losing streak with an 85-74 triumph at Sacred Heart.  St. Francis (NY)’s Ricky Cadell scored 24 points as the Terriers stopped CCSU, 75-65, for their third straight win.  Cadell is up to 1,602 career points and is now just 12 shy of establishing a new school record.  Robert Morris utilized balanced scoring to come out on top in the latest chapter of its rivalry with Mount St. Mary’s, winning by a 65-57 final score on NEC-TV.  The Colonials have won five in a row.  LIU’s Jason Brickman continued his late season tear with 11 assists against just one turnover in its win over Bryant.  The 11 dimes were the most by an NEC freshman since Courtney Pritchard had 11 for Wagner against Brown on November 17, 2000 and the most by an NEC rookie in a league game since Wagner’s Mick Wheeler had 16 versus FDU on February 21, 1998.  Brickman is now the NEC leader with 5.3 apg. 

Finally, Quinnipiac senior forward Justin Rutty pulled down 17 rebounds in a 64-59 conquest of Monmouth and is just 11 boards shy of becoming the third player in NEC history to collect 1,000 for his career.

Onto the playoff picture.

Current Standings
1. LIU (15-2 NEC)
2. QU (12-5 NEC)
3. CCSU & RMU (11-6 NEC)
5. SFNY & WC (9-8 NEC)
7. MSM (8-9 NEC)
8. SFPA & BU (7-11 NEC)
10. MU & SHU (5-12 NEC)
12. FDU (3-14 NEC)

Winners of nine straight, Long Island has clinched the #1 seed and home court advantage throughout its run in the NEC Tournament.  Should the Blackbirds fall in the tourney, they will represent the NEC in the Postseason NIT.

Quinnipiac has won five in a row and clinched the #2 seed.  The Bobcats will host a quarterfinal game, and if they win, a semifinal game as well.

Central Connecticut State
 can clinch the #3 seed with a win over Long Island or a Robert Morris loss to Wagner.  In that case, Robert Morris would be the #4 seed.  RMU can claim the #3 seed with a win and a CCSU loss.  Both CCSU and RMU will host an NEC quarterfinal game.

St. Francis (NY) can earn the #5 seed with a win over Bryant or a Wagner loss to Robert Morris.  Wagner can clinch the #5 seed with a win and a St. Francis (NY) loss.

#6/#7 seed possibilities…

– If St. Francis (NY) wins or Wagner loses, then the Seahawks are the #6 seed.
– If St. Francis (NY) loses, Wagner wins and Mount St. Mary’s wins, the Mount will be the #6 seed and St. Francis (NY) the #7 seed if Quinnipiac wins.  The Mount can also be the #6 seed if Quinnipiac loses, and both CCSU and Robert Morris also fall.  If Quinnipiac loses and either CCSU or Robert Morris win, then St. Francis (NY) is the #6 seed and Mount St. Mary’s the #7 seed.
– If St. Francis (NY) and Wagner lose, and Mount St. Mary’s wins, St. Francis (NY) is the #5 seed, Wagner is the #6 seed and Mount is the #7 seed.

If Saint Francis (PA) beats Mount St. Mary’s, then the Red Flash are the #7 seed and the Mount will be the #8 seed.  If Mount wins, then Saint Francis (PA) is the #8 seed.

Just one more day of regular season play and all these scenarios will work themselves out and the field will be set.

Be sure to catch an NEC tripleheader on MSG Network on Saturday.  CCSU and Long Island meet in a doubleheader beginning with the women at 11:30 am.  The men tipoff at 2:00 pm.  Quinnipiac and FDU close out the slate with a 4:00 pm tipoff.

At the end of the night on Saturday, check back on the NEC website for an updated tournament bracket.

(Posted on February 24, 2011)

Saint Peter’s Makes It Seven NEC Teams Amongst Nation’s Bowling Elite

They watched their two Garden State rivals take their usual places amongst America’s top-ranked NCAA bowling teams. 

Fairleigh Dickinson and New Jersey City once again opened the season ranked in the National Tenpins Coaches Association Top 20 Poll, while the Saint Peter’s Peahens found themselves on the outside looking in.  

Four months later, however, and David Freeman’s Peahens have joined the party. 

Saint Peter’s broke into the National Tenpins Coaches Association Top 20 Poll, sliding into the No. 19 spot of the February edition of the national rankings.  The Peahens join six fellow NEC members who have been ranked amongst America’s best since the season started back in October.

Fairleigh Dickinson, the defending NCAA champion, wrestled the National No. 1 ranking away from MEAC member Maryland-Eastern Shore.  Meanwhile, New Jersey City leapt up to the No. 7 spot followed by NEC foes Kutztown and Sacred Heart in eighth and ninth, respectively.  Adelphi (13th) and St. Francis (NY) (15th) both maintained their presence amongst America’s top-15 teams.

No other conference has more than three members ranked in the latest NTCA Top 20 Poll.

Fairleigh Impressive
National No. 1 Fairleigh Dickinson has been piping hot during one of New Jersey’s snowiest winters on record.  The Knights, whose head coach Mike LoPresti was recently tabbed one of the top-20 recruiters in all of collegiate athletics by ESPN The Magazine, have sandwiched a pair of tournament titles around their 7-2 showing at the NEC Winter Meet (Feb. 5-6). 

Having won 31 of 37 matches since the start of the spring semester back in January, Fairleigh Dickinson has run its overall season record to 71-15 and boasts an astronomical .826 win percentage.

FDU opened the season’s second half by winning the 28-team Kutztown Invitational on January 30, defeating none other than UMES in the championship round.  The Knights defeated UMES in a quad baker match on November 5 and added two more wins two days later in championship bracket play at the season-opening Jersey Jamboree.

After a 13-2 record at Kutztown followed by a 7-2 record at the second of three regular season NEC meets, Fairleigh Dickinson won 11 of 13 matches and another meet title at Delaware State’s Capital City Classic on February 13.   The Knights secured first place at the Capital City Classic for the fifth time in six years by defeating New Jersey City, UMES, and Vanderbilt during best-of-seven baker championship bracket play.


Tying it all together…LIU’s run to the NEC regular season title & tiebreakers (they’re back!).

One week to go before the Madness begins.

Very little is settled on the men’s side other than Long Island quietly putting an end to the race for the NEC regular season crown.  The Blackbirds ran away from the field this season, and with a 20-point win over Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday, ensured that the road to the NEC title will go through Brooklyn as long as they remain alive in the postseason.  Lots of superlatives here:

• The regular season championship is the first for LIU since 1997-98 and the days of future NBAer Charles Jones
The 22 wins for LIU is the most for the program since going 22-2 in 1967-68
The Blackbirds have won eight straight games, their second eight-game streak this season
LIU has more wins than any other New York City area program
LIU is now ranked #20 in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major poll

Most impressively, the Blackbirds have posted the most road wins (13) in the nation and two more than any other program (Belmont has 11).

People are beginning to take notice as well both in and out of the league.  LIU has been profiled in all the New York dailies in recent weeks, and even the Wall Street Journal has gotten in the act.

After LIU beat Wagner in overtime last Thursday in an entertaining game with an intense playoff atmosphere, Wagner head coach Dan Hurley had this to say about the Blackbirds:

“They have a lot of answers,” said Hurley.  “Their wing kids are really underrated guys.  They’re the heart and soul of the team.  I think they have a really good balanced team and they have swagger.  They have the best swagger of anyone we’ve played.  I think they know they are really good.”

So while LIU head coach Jim Ferry proudly extols the virtues of his school and borough, and begins making his playoff plans, the rest of the league gears up for what promises to be a wild final week of regular season play.

There are 10 teams still fighting for seeding or qualification, which leads to the inevitable question on everyone’s minds – TIEBREAKERS!

Here at Overtime!, we’ve spent countless hourse (really!) putting together some of the scenarios that may play out over the next six days…some light reading for everyone entering the work week.

Making March Plans
Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Wagner, Mount St. Mary’s and St. Francis (NY) last week joined Long Island and CCSU as NEC playoff participants.  Robert Morris qualified for the postseason for the eighth consecutive season, while Quinnipiac and the Mount have made it six years running.  Wagner and St. Francis (NY) are back in the playoffs after failing to qualify a year ago.  For the earlier qualifiers, it marks the 13th straight tourney appearance for CCSU – the most in the NEC at this time – and the fourth in a row for Long Island.

Top-Four Seed Drama
Unlike conferences that contest their postseason tournament at a neutral site, the NEC format of playing all games at the higher seed adds a sense of drama as the regular season winds down with teams fighting to finish in the top-four and earn quarterfinal and possibly semifinal round home games.  Thus far, Long Island (14-2), Quinnipiac (11-5) and Central Connecticut State (11-5) are assured of hosting first round games.

#2 Seed Battle
Quinnipiac owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with CCSU based on their season sweep of the Blue Devils.  The Bobcats can earn the #2 seed with a pair of wins this week at Monmouth and FDU.  Quinnipiac can also snag the #2 spot with a split this week and a CCSU loss.  The Bobcats can even drop their final two games and take the #2 seed if CCSU drops both its games, and Robert Morris (10-6) and Wagner (9-7) each lose once.  CCSU can lay claim to the #2 seed with victories over St. Francis (NY) and Long Island and a Quinnipiac loss, or by splitting its last two contests if the Bobcats drop both their games.  Robert Morris can only qualify at #2 by winning its final two games, along with Quinnipiac and CCSU both going winless this week.  Wagner is two games out at this point, but has a remote chance of reaching as high as #2.  The Seahawks must earn wins over Saint Francis (PA) and Robert Morris, while Quinnipiac and CCSU must lose their final two games.

Last Home Spot Up For Grabs
The battle for the final remaining home game in the NEC quarterfinals boils down to Robert Morris (10-6), Wagner (9-7) and St. Francis (NY) (8-8). 

Robert Morris can earn the spot with a win over Wagner this week, or by splitting its final two games as long as the Seahawks lose once.  If the Colonials lose twice, they cannot host a first round game.  The Seahawks can bring a playoff game to the Spiro Center by beating Saint Francis (PA) and Robert Morris this week.  Wagner can also go 1-1 on the week and host a game, provided they beat Robert Morris, the Colonials lose to Mount St. Mary’s and St. Francis (NY) loses at least once.  Despite being two games back of fourth place Robert Morris, St. Francis (NY) can sneak into the #4 spot by defeating CCSU and Bryant this week, the Colonials lose twice and Wagner falls to Saint Francis (PA).

Middle of the Pack Hi-Lo Game
Things are still murky in the middle of standings with plenty of room for movement.  Wagner could go into the tournament as high as the #2 seed, but as low as the #7 seed.   Robert Morris could fit into the puzzle anywhere from #2 to #6.  St. Francis (NY) has a chance to enter the playoffs as high as the #4 seed, but as low as the #8 seed.  Mount St. Mary’s could finish anywhere from #5 to #8.  Saint Francis (PA), which is just fighting for an opportunity to play in March (see below), could go qualify at the #6 with a pair of wins this week, along with two losses apiece for the Mount and St. Francis (NY).

Fighting For Survival
Every bit as intense as the battle for a quarterfinal home game is the slugfest for the final NEC Tournament berth. With one week to play, only Fairleigh Dickinson has been eliminated from playoff contention as three teams are engaged in a duel for the final chances at playing postseason ball in March.  With a 6-10 record, Saint Francis (PA) controls its own destiny and can qualify for the tourney with wins over Wagner and Mount St. Mary’s this week.  The Red Flash can also qualify with a single victory, coupled with either a Monmouth loss or a Bryant win, and can even get in with a pair of losses if neither Monmouth or Sacred Heart wins both its games.  Trailing Saint Francis (PA) by a game at 5-11 are Monmouth and Sacred Heart.  The Hawks can reach the postseason by winning their final two games against Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac, along with Saint Francis (PA) dropping its final two outings.  Monmouth can also get in with two wins, a Saint Francis (PA) split and two Bryant losses.  Sacred Heart has the most difficult path to the postseason, needing to beat both Monmouth and FDU, while Saint Francis (PA) loses twice.  Bryant is ineligible for NEC Tournament play until the 2012-13 season  when it completes the five-year NCAA Division I reclassification period.

There are loads of scenarios that can play out over the next week, so be sure to check the NEC website for tiebreaker updates.

To whet your appetite for the postseason, NEC-TV brings you four games this week.  On Thursday, Mount St. Mary’s visits Robert Morris in a continuation of one of the league’s best-ever rivalries.  The game is set to air live on MSG, FSN-Pittsburgh and MASN at 7:00 pm. 

On Saturday, first place Long Island hosts second place Central Connecticut State in a battle of NEC heavyweights in the second half of a doubleheader on MSG.  The women tipoff at 11:30 am, followed by the men at 2:00 pm.  FDU and Quinnipiac close out the NEC tripleheader on MSG at 4:00 pm.

Enjoy the action and let us know your thoughts on the playoffs!

(Posted on February 20, 2011)

“The single greatest play I’ve ever seen in basketball…” Tim Capstraw on NEC Hall of Famer Terrance Bailey & The Dunk.

The NEC’s 30th Anniversary has given us the opportunity to stroll down memory lane and look back on those who etched their names in the recordbooks and helped build the foundation of the conference.

One such player was Wagner’s Terrance Bailey, who will be honored during the Seahawks’ NEC-TV game against St. Francis (NY) on Saturday, February 19th (MSG Network, noon) for being the lone men’s basketball player selected as part of the inaugural NEC Hall of Fame induction class.  Bailey was a rather prolific scorer in his day, racking up an NEC-record 2,591 career points between 1983 and 1987.  Since that time, no one has come within 300 points of matching that total.  He led the nation in scoring (29.4 ppg) and was named the NEC Player of the Year as a junior in 1985-86. Bailey won the NEC scoring title again as a senior (28.1 ppg) and finished his career as a three-time first team all-league performer.

As you’ll read, it took just two of those near 2,600 points to make Bailey an instant legend to those who were around to witness it.


His coach at the time, Neil Kennett, told this to the Philadelphia Daily News back in 1986: “He’s a star anywhere in the country. Big East, ACC, anywhere. Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, you name the place. He’s as good as (Duke’s Johnny) Dawkins, as good as (Notre Dame’s David) Rivers…well, we’ll find out next year, because we’re playing Notre Dame.”

By the way, Bailey dropped 30 in that game against Notre Dame the following season, doubling the output of Rivers, a two-time All-American.

Bailey’s legend only grew after his collegiate playing days ended and he taken in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1987 NBA Draft.  Though he never realized his NBA dreams, Bailey did play overseas and has earned recognition in the years following his graduation as part of the NEC’s All-Decade, 20th Anniversary and 25th Anniversary teams.  He was inducted into the Wagner Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002 prior to his NEC Hall of Fame honor last December.


“Terrance Bailey to this day is the most exciting college player I have ever seen,” said Tim Capstraw, current NEC analyst and former Wagner head coach. “To see him with the ball in transition and take off and slam dunk on everyone, including 7’4” Rik Smits, were the single most exciting plays I have ever witnessed.”

Capstraw and NEC play-by-play man Dave Popkin here discuss that very dunk, one of 136 in the 6’2″ guard’s collegiate career.

Look for Capstraw, who saw Bailey play up-and-close during his time as Wagner head baseball coach in the 80s, to reconnect with the Wagner legend on Saturday when the two chat about the old days at halftime of the NEC-TV game.

For those wondering, Bailey is a school teacher in the Trenton area.  His son was a recent high school star in the same area where Bailey lit up the scoreboard in the early 1980s. 

NEC Rivalry Week did not disappoint on Saturday, with a buzzer-beater and an OT affair. The Overtime! blog wraps it up.

The Battle never disappoints.

Last week Overtime! wrote about St. Francis (NY)’s 142-140 double overtime win over Long Island in the highest scoring game in NEC history.  A year ago, the two teams played a three-overtime affair with the Terriers coming out on top.  On Saturday, we saw the latest chapter in the Battle of Brooklyn rivalry, one that immediately took on Instant Classic status.

In a game that featured 24 lead changes and 19 ties, the game fittingly came down to the final shot. LIU sophomore guard C.J. Garner asked his coach for the ball then took it the length of the court, drove toward the baseline and hit a runner with 0.6 seconds to play to lift the Blackbirds to an 82-80 win over borough rival St. Francis (NY) and sweep the home-and-home series.  Mid-major guru Kyle Whelliston, who was in attendance at the game, said it was the best of the 50+ games he has travelled around the country to witness this season.  Longtime NEC color analyst Tim Capstraw, who also handles analyst duties for New Jersey Nets radio broadcasts, mentioned that it was one the favorite games he has ever called.

*** Since the game never made air due to a satellite transmission snafu, MSG will now broadcast the game in its entirety on Monday at midnight, not long after the conclusion of an NEC doubleheader on the network featuring Quinnipiac at Sacred Heart (women at 5:00 pm, men at 7:30 pm). ***

You can watch the game in its entirety online by going here: http://www.northeastconference.tv/archives/mbasketball110212/index.html

For those who want a sneak peak at the game and the thrilling conclusion, check out the highlights.

The day’s other great game took place in Smithfield, RI where the Bulldogs snapped CCSU’s seven-game win streak, upending the Blue Devils in overtime, 85-80 to earn a split in the New England Knockdown.  CCSU rallied from five down in the last 30 seconds of regulation, knotting the game at 74-74 on a Shemik Thompson three-pointer with 1.6 seconds to play, but Bryant sophomore guard Frankie Dobbs scored six points in OT to help lead the Bulldogs to their sixth win by five points or less this season.  BU senior swingman Cecil Gresham led the way for the Bulldogs with 27 points and seven assists, offsetting another terrific performance by CCSU’s Ken Horton, one of the league’s best who finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds to cap off another monster week.

Long Island’s last-second win coupled with CCSU’s setback on Saturday has give the Blackbirds a two-game cushion in the NEC standings. The Blackbirds (12-2 NEC) have won seven straight and 14-of-15, and have reached the 20-win mark for the first time since 1997-98. CCSU (10-4 NEC) will have to make up at least one game prior to its showdown with LIU in the both team’s regular season finale on February 26 on NEC-TV.  Both teams have clinched NEC Tournament berths and the Blackbirds are guaranteed to host a quarterfinal playoff game.  Wagner (9-5), Quinnipiac (8-5), Robert Morris (8-6) and Mount St. Mary’s (8-6) are all bunched up behind the leaders in the fight for one of the four home tourney games.

Quick Hitters

• Monmouth swept the Garden State Rivalry Series over Fairleigh Dickinson with a pair of 11-point wins.  The Hawks had four double figure scorers in each victory and committed just 17 turnovers total in the two games while dishing for 33 assists. FDU had swept the series in each of the last two years. Monmouth had not beaten the Knights twice since the 2002-03 season.

• In the Keystone Clash, Robert Morris swept Saint Francis (PA) (78-68 and 78-73) for the third straight year and has now won seven straight against its Western Pennsylvania rivals. RMU shot 53.7 percent from the field on the week, including 50.0 percent (14-28) from outside the arc. The sweep overshadowed a pair of terrific performances from Red Flash sophomore guard Umar Shannon, who averaged 24.0 ppg.

• Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner, while not traditional rivals, had a pair of hotly contested games in their North-South Showdown. The Mount won at home on Thursday, 71-57, in a game much closer than the final score indicated. Saturday’s game went to the final seconds, with the host Seahawks sealing things at the line for a 70-65 win. Mount senior forward Shawn Atupem hit all nine of his shots from the field in the two games.

• Quinnipiac dropped Sacred Heart, 59-54, in the first half of the Connecticut Collision lone meeting last Wednesday. The two teams play the back end of the set in Fairfield on Monday evening on NEC-TV. The Bobcats limited the Pioneers to just one field goal over the last 12 minutes to rally from a nine-point deficit in last week’s win.

Women’s Basketball NEC Rivalry Week Tips Off Saturday; League’s Rivals Matchup for Sat-Mon Home-and-Home

It’s NEC Rivalry Week on the hardwood, and here are six storylines to watch for during the six home-and-home women’s hoops matchups:

Robert Morris vs. Saint Francis (PA) – A lot more than bragging rights will be on the line during this year’s Keystone Clash.  Exactly two-thirds of the way through the NEC schedule, the Colonials and Red Flash are tied for first place with 10-2 records.  The first leg of the rivalry series will take place in Loretto, marking the first time these two teams will meet since their thrilling 2010 NEC Tournament semifinal game.  Robert Morris will definitely have revenge on its mind after then-No. 5 seed Saint Francis upset the top-seeded Colonials last postseason.  The game will air live on NEC-TV as the first half of a men’s/women’s doubleheader on Saturday, February 12.  The women will tip off at 6:00 pm EST with the men to follow at 8:30 pm.  Both broadcasts can be seen live on FSN-Pittsburgh, Fox College Sports, and ESPN3.

Watch the 2010 NEC Semifinal Finish between RMU and SFPA:

Quinnipiac vs. Sacred Heart – A mere 23 miles on the Merritt Parkway separate the campuses of Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart, but nothing separates these two Merritt Parkway rivals in the NEC standings.  The Bobcats and Pioneers will square off on Saturday in Hamden before colliding again in Sacred Heart’s Pitt Center in a Monday evening NEC-TV broadcast.  The Monday matchup, which will air live on MSG Network beginning at 5:00 pm, features the top-two NEC regular season wins leaders in league history – Sacred Heart’s Ed Swanson (158) and Quinnipiac Tricia Fabbri (141).

Central Connecticut vs. Bryant – The New England Knockout is the youngest of all six rivalry matchups, being that Bryant just joined the NEC two years ago and is still completing the NCAA-mandated reclassification process.  Only one game separates Beryl Piper’s Blue Devils (6-6) and Mary Burke’s Bulldogs (5-7) in the NEC standings.  Bryant, which is not postseason eligible until 2012-13, has won three of its last four against CCSU, an NEC Tournament semifinalist each of the past two years.  The Bulldogs won both meetings during the 2008-09 campaign and settled for a split during Rivalry Week last year. 

Long Island vs. St. Francis (NY) – As intense a rivalry as any in New York City hoops, the Battle of Brooklyn has always brought out the best in these two teams.  Long Island, which was the 2010-11 NEC preseason favorite, took both meetings last year by a double-digit margin.  Still, a St. Francis (NY) upset is definitely not out of the question.  Brenda Milano and the Terriers have done it to LIU before.  SFNY became the first-ever No. 8 seed to eliminate the No. 1 seed when they bounced the Blackbirds in the 2007 NEC Tournament quarterfinal round.  Monday night’s clash between these two cross-boro rivals will air live on NortheastConference.TV at 7:00 pm on February 14.

Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Monmouth – It’s an authentic battle between some of Jersey’s finest.  When these two Garden State rivals meet this week, onlookers will see some of the state’s top high school talent playing at the Division I level.  Four members of FDU’s starting five hail from the Garden State, including scoring sensation Mariyah Laury (Orange). The Knights’ visit to Jersey Shore-based Monmouth on Monday night will be a homecoming of sorts for FDU’s Danielle Pankey (Middletown South) and Alyssa Mayrose (Freehold Boro) who both played their high school ball in the Shore Conference.  Monmouth has mined its share of NJ talent as well.  Starting sophomore forward Abby Martin is from Maplewood and played at Columbia HS.

Mount St. Mary’s vs. Wagner – The North-South Showdown features NYC-based Wagner and Mount St. Mary’s whose campus sits only miles south of the battle fields of Gettysburg.   The Seahawks and Mountaineers have been conference foes since the Mount joined the NEC in 1987 and with six games to go in the 2010-11 league schedule, both teams are fighting for their postseason lives.  The two are currently tied for 10th in the NEC standings at 3-9.  Only the top-eight teams qualify for the annual NEC Tournament, the winner of which will receive an auto bid to the Big Dance.

So Day 1 of NEC Rivalry Week is in the books. Who were the winners? What’s ahead? Check out our Overtime! roundup.

So Day 1 of NEC Rivalry Week is in the books.

Who were the winners?  All the home teams, for starters, who went six-for-six on the evening with five winning by double-digits.  Long Island (11-2 NEC) and CCSU (10-3) also became the first two teams to clinch NEC playoff berths.  The two programs remain one-two in the standings with the Blackbirds holding a slim one-game edge.

The most compelling game of the evening was in Hamden, CT as Quinnipiac outlasted its Merritt Parkway travel partner Sacred Heart, 59-54.  The Bobcats enjoyed a huge edge on the glass – winning the battle of the boards, 44-25 – which is not uncommon for a team that leads the nation in rebounding and ranks 11th in rebound margin.  Still, this was a tight game with both Justin Rutty and James Johnson having off nights offensively.  With high scoring Sacred Heart guard Shane Gibson doing the heavy lifting, the Pioneers were ahead by two points with under seven minutes to play.  The Bobcats turned up the defensive pressure at this point and held SHU to just one field goal the rest of the way out.  The deep Quinnipiac guard core was led by Lance Brown, who scored 13 points and pulled down 13 boards, including seven on the offensive end.  For those keeping score, Brown is just 6’3″ tall.  Freshman forward Ike Azotam was another double-double performer for the Bobcats, finishing with 16 points and 13 caroms.

NEC-TV was on hand in New Britain for CCSU’s 71-55 win over Bryant.  The Blue Devils, who have won seven straight, broke open a close game in the first half behind the play of reigning NEC Player of the Week Ken Horton.  Is there anything the Ossining, NY native can’t do on the court?  Scoring…check…23 points.  Rebounding…check…11 boards.  Blocked shots…check…six rejections.  Steals…check…six swipes.  Horton’s ability to dominate on the floor was on full display last night before an MSG Network audience and the nearly 2,700 fans who packed Detrick Gymnasium.  Even ESPN’s Andy Katz joined in the Rivalry Week fun, and was kind enough to give us his thoughts on the league.


We also had a chance to check out the CCSU’s smarly decorated basketball office suite.  Pictures of the Blue Devils’ three NEC title teams and each of their NEC Player of the Year award winners adorn the walls…Rick Mickens, Corsley Edwards, Ron Robinson and Javier Mojica.  There has been no shortage of talent at CCSU during Howie Dickenman’s tenure and this year’s version of the Blue Devils will have a chance to earn their own spot on the Wall of Fame.

It got us to reminiscing here in the office about that first CCSU championship team, led by Mickens, Edwards and John Tice.  Mickens was fantastic that year.  In fact, he also won NEC Defensive Player of the Year honors, a feat that has yet to be duplicated.  The Blue Devils capped off a 25-win season by beating Robert Morris for the NEC crown at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ.  CCSU would go on to give #2 seed Iowa State all it could handle in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Minneapolis before falling by ten.

    • First place Long Island continued to pile up points putting up 87 in an 11-point win over St. Francis (NY) in the first half of the “Battle of Brooklyn.” 
    • Monmouth broke a four-game slide and got a leg up on FDU in the Garden State Rivalry Series with a 68-57 victory.
    • Robert Morris’ Karon Abraham led a hot-shooting Colonials’ effort last night with 20 points (4-6 3PFG) in a 78-68 win over Western PA rival Saint Francis (PA).
    • Mount St. Mary has been outstanding at home this season and last night improved to 6-1 in Knott Arena against NEC competition with a 71-57 triumph over Wagner.

Mount head coach Robert Burke breaks it all down in his postgame press conference.

Be sure to check out the NEC-TV tripleheader on Saturday:

Battle of Brooklyn: Long Island at St. Francis (NY) at noon on MSG
Garden State Rivalry Series: Monmouth at Fairleigh Dickinson at 2:00 pm on MSG
Keystone Clash: Robert Morris at Saint Francis (PA) at 6:00 pm (women) and 8:30 pm (men) on FSN-Pittsburgh, Fox College Sports (FCS), ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court

Enjoy the games!