NEC Year In The Rear-View (Installment 2 of 4) – 5 Extraordinary Individual Performances

Well, you all have waited patiently, and alas Installment No. 2 is here.  This late-night Tuesday special will take you through five phenomenal individual performances that NEC athletes accounted for during the 2010-11 academic year.  Due to the fact we don’t have all summer to scour over individual performances, as we still have two more categories to broach, we had to limit ourselves to five.  Since we all know there were more than a handful of primetime performances, feel free to share yours below.

Francis Goes for 43
Alex Francis (Men’s Basketball) – Bryant at Long Island (February 27, 2011)

Alex Francis was no longer a secret at this point in the season, but no one could have expected what the 6-foot-6 freshman did to the eventual NEC champion LIU Blackbirds during the final weekend of the regular season.  Heading into Bryant’s two-game season-capping road swing through Brooklyn, Francis, a Harlem product, had already accumulated five Choice Hotels NEC Rookie of the Week awards.   In an earlier meeting with LIU, he posted a double-double of 18 points and 10 boards, but those numbers would be dwarfed on Thursday night, February 24 at Downtown Brooklyn’s Wellness Center. Coming off the bench, mind you, Francis poured in 43 points on 20-for-27 shooting.  He went 3-for-4 from the line, meaning he scored 43 the old-fashioned way ala Wilt the Stilt. 

His Bulldogs dropped a 94-85 decision to the Blackbirds, but there’s no taking away from the fact that Francis was flat-out dominant against a pretty formidable LIU frontcourt. The career-high 43 points, which set a conference freshman record, is the highest total by an NEC player in nine years. The superlatives don’t end there. It marked the most points scored by a freshman in the country this season (fifth overall) and the most by a rookie since Kansas State’s Michael Beasley hit for 44 against Baylor in 2008.

Francis also had a flare for the dramatic during his freshman campaign – watch him hit this game-winning buzzer-beater vs. Mount…

Russ Runs onto National Stage
Myles Russ (Football) – Robert Morris vs. Liberty (September 18, 2010)

Robert Morris running back Myles Russ grabbed national headlines in Week 3 when the 5-foot-8 Floridian carried the Colonials passed then-No. 15, and three-time defending Big South champion, Liberty.  On his way to earning the Sports Network/ National Player of the Week award, Russ racked up 229 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.  The man who would eventually become the all-time leading rusher in Robert Morris history ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns. He staked the Colonials to a 7-0 lead by taking a lob pass and dashing 67 yards to pay-dirt 2:06 into the game. 

Russ punctuated his prime performance by rushing 12 yards for the tie-breaking touchdown with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter. 

The early-season showing was a sign of things to come for Russ and the eventual NEC champion Colonials.  The hard-running, and extremely humble, Russ totaled 1,363 rushing yards in 2010 and was chosen as the NEC Offensive Player of the Year.

Watch Russ become Robert Morris’ all-time leading rusher…

Moore Hangs Up a 7
Trevor Moore (Men’s Lacrosse) – Robert Morris at Canisius (April 13, 2011)

Trevor Moore 7, Canisius 5. 

Robert Morris’ senior attacker rattled the cage 50 times in 15 games during the inaugural season of Northeast Conference Men’s Lacrosse.  On this particular day in Buffalo, NY, he needed only nine shots to set the NEC single-game scoring high.  His 7-goal showing lifted the Colonials to a 14-5 win over the Griffs, Robert Morris’ third victory in three games against MAAC member. 

After the hosts grabbed a 2-0 lead, Moore answered by turning a natural hat trick within a 3:52 span. Moore scored his fourth goal only 1:08 before halftime, giving RMU a 7-4 lead at the break.  This was just a glimpse of what the inaugural NEC Player of the Year did against MAAC foes in 2011.  Moore scored the OT game-winner in a 14-13 triumph Detroit-Mercy after tallied two goals and two assists in a 9-7 win over Manhattan.

Gaines Gold Rush Goes on Year No. 3
Jessie Gaines (Women’s Track & Field) – Long Island, First Place at NEC Indoor Championships (February 12-13, 2011)

It’s become commonplace for Jessie Gaines at the Northeast Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships.  The fast-flying Blackbird has contested the title meet three times and has walked away with a trio of MVP awards.  Gaines’ 2011 showing was her most dominant yet. 

She single-handedly scored 48 of meet champion LIU’s 138 points. 

Gaines gathered 4 gold medals and one silver while setting three NEC meet records.

Torching the field on the way to her third consecutive NEC 60-meter hurdles crown, Gaines topped the meet-record time she turned in as a sophomore by clocking in at 8.34.  The three-time MVP also set meet records in the 60-meter dash (7.53) and triple jump (12.55m).  She came up short in her bid to win a second consecutive 200-meter titles, finishing second to Mount St. Mary’s Ashley DeCruise, but won the long jump, an event she took runner-up honors in last year.

Check out her post-meet reaction…

Ganjoin Defends Home Turf
Tracy Ganjoin (Bowling) – Fairleigh Dickinson, First Place at Jersey Jamboree (November 5-7, 2010)

Ganjoin made a statement right from the start of a senior campaign that would result in a NTCA All-American honor and another trip to the NCAA Championship.  Her three-day performance at the season-opening Jersey Jamboree was as impressive as any produced in the three-year history of Northeast Conference Bowling. 

With Fairleigh Dickinson beginning its national title defense at the 18-team tournament in Howell, NJ, the lefty leadoff, who hails from Jersey Shore-based Brick, averaged 21.30 pins/frame over a 13-match sample.  She struck on 59.5 percent of her attempts and was a driving force behind the Knight’s 12-1 opening weekend record.

Ganjoin averaged 226.8 during the five-game traditional team play portion of the meet and threw a near-perfect game in a win over Vanderbilt. The 5-foot-1 lefthander threw nine straight strikes against the eventual NCAA runner-up Commodores, but a solid 7-pin rap ended her string in the tenth on the way to a 277 game.  

Ganjoin was especially effective during the Knights’ 4-3 best-of-seven baker match victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore in the championship round. The senior southpaw opened the title tilt, which featured the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the 2010-11 NTCA Preseason Top 20 Poll, by throwing four strikes and leaving no opens over her first eight frames.

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