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.