NEC Rivalry Week Nearly One Big Sweep: Wednesday’s Night WBB Recap Plus Comprehensive MBB Wrap-up with Guest Blogger

Six Wednesday night women’s games put an official close to the third annual NEC Rivalry Week.

After all six men’s series were one-sided two-game sweeps, the women nearly followed suit.  Five of the six women’s match-ups resulted in sweeps with the lone outlier being the Garden State Rivalry Series.

After New Jersey native Mariyah Laury carried Fairleigh Dickinson to a win on Saturday with a 42-point performance from the ages, Monmouth used hot three-point shooting down the stretch to pull out a victory on Wednesday night.

The Garden State split allowed Monmouth (9-5) to remain in third place in the NEC standings, keeping a 1.0-game lead over a three-way tie for fourth place (LIU, Robert Morris, SFPA are all 8-6).  Meanwhile, FDU remained at .500 (7-7) in NEC play and would own the No. 7 seed had the NEC Tournament begun today.

Sacred Heart’s back-to-back wins over Bryant allowed Ed Swanson’s team to maintain its first-place standing atop the NEC.  The Pioneers (12-2) hold a slim edge over Quinnipiac (11-3), which rebounded from a road loss at FDU by posting a pair of victories over Central Connecticut.

Each of the NEC’s women’s teams will play four more regular season contests before the eight-team NEC Tournament field is determined.

 5 Significant Happenings from a Wednesday on the Hardwood
Gabrielle Washington wowed onlookers by scoring 21 points in Saturday’s home win over Bryant, but the rookie guard was just getting started.  The 5-foot-9 guard, who hails from Mesa, AZ, set the NEC rookie single-game scoring high on the second leg of the New England Knockout series. Becoming the first NEC rookie this season to turn in two straight 20-point performance, Washinton tallied 27 in the Pioneers’ 74-67 win in Smithfield on Feb. 15.

Fairleigh Dickinson’s Mariyah Laury followed up her stellar 42-point effort in the first half of the Garden State Rivalry series by tallying 20 points on the back end.  Despite Laury’s league-leading 11th 20-point game of the season, the Knights were unable to complete the sweep of Monmouth because of what NortheastConference.TV play-by-play announcer Craig D’Amico termed “Thibault Time” during last night’s web broadcast.

Monmouth junior guard Carly Thibault’s timing could not have been any better Wednesday night.  Thibault led the Hawks by scoring a team-high 11 points, all of which came in the final 6:26 of regulation.  The Hawks’ leader in three-point field goal percentage (.418) hit three consecutive triples and added a pair of free throws to sew up a 64-60 win for Monmouth.

Felicia Barron has made the most of her time on the floor this season, and Wednesday night was no different. Quinnipiac’s 5-foot-7 do-everything guard played only 22 minutes but managed 12 points and a pair of steals in a 58-49 win over Central Connecticut.  Despite her 28.4 minutes per game average not being high enough to rank on the NEC’s Top 20 leader board, Barron is the conference second-leading scorer (17.6 ppg).  According to, her 24.8 points per 40 minutes rank 13th in the nation.

Sacred Heart’s Callan Taylor is the NEC’s all-time career leader in double-doubles (13), but the veteran forward no longer sits atop the 2011-12 league leader board.  With back-to-back double-doubles during the Keystone State Clash, Robert Morris sophomore Artemis Spanou overtook Taylor for first.  Spanou, who put up 19 points and 12 boards in Wednesday’s win over Saint Francis (PA), has 15 double-doubles on the season.


 Quick Wednesday Night Hoops ‘Tweet-cap’
@BryantAthletics – Ankoma-Mensa nearly gets 20-20, Bulldog comeback falls short, as @SHUBigRed beats Bryant 74-67 |


@CraigCD13 – Dare I say it…it was “Thibault Time” down the stretch tonight in Hackensack! Fun game to call, great #NECRivalryWeek win for @MUHawksWBB

@CoachLSteele – Another W for us : ) gotta keep plugging away. 4 more to go until it’s a whole new season

@TheMountWBB – MSM WBB 3 game win streak…woot woot! Another big team effort today! Happy to have everyone contributing : )

@LIUAthletics – WBB: @LIUwbb Wins Battle of Brooklyn Behind MVP Performance From Ashley Palmer.


Hoops Video Vault
Quinnipiac’s postgame comments following 58-49 win over CCSU…



Highlights from Mount’s win over Wagner in North-South Showdown…


SFPA head coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl breaks down loss to RMU…


The men’s portion of Rivalry Week ended with a pair of NEC-TV tilts on Sunday.  For a comprehensive recap of what unfolded, Overtime! tapped into the great resource that is Ron Ratner.  Now in his 14th season overseeing the PR efforts for NEC men’s hoops, this former Young CoSIDA star has plenty of information to share.

Ratner’s Rivalry Week Wrap-up
The third installment of NEC Rivalry Week was an odd one for sure.  The week featured six pairs of teams (Long Island-St. Francis (NY), Fairleigh Dickinson-Monmouth, Robert Morris-Saint Francis (PA), CCSU-Quinnipiac, Bryant-Sacred Heart and Mount St. Mary’s-Wagner) squaring off in home-and-home contests.  But in a strange quirk not likely to occur again anytime soon, all six series ended in sweeps.

The innovative concept of playing back-to-back contests against a local rival in a 48-hour span is the only one of its kind among the nation’s 31 NCAA Division I conferences.

Here are some quick recaps on each of the series:

Battle of Brooklyn
Another instant classic.  After LIU Brooklyn’s buzzer-beating win in the 2011 Battle of Brooklyn, the bar was set high for this year’s clash which matched two of the top teams in the NEC.  After the Blackbirds finally managed some breathing roon on Sunday, taking a 70-62 lead over the Terriers with 6:14 to play, St. Francis responded with a 13-0 run over the next three minutes to build a five-point edge with under three minutes left on the clock.  With the Terriers clinging to a one-point advantage, LIU junior forward Julian Boyd (San Antonio, TX/William H. Taft) hit a turnaround jumper with 18 seconds remaining.  St. Francis (NY) set up for a final shot, but turned the ball over with under two seconds to play and LIU escaped with an 81-78 victory.  The Blackbirds’ Jamal Olasewere (Silver Spring, MD/Springbrook) took home the Lai-Lynch trophy as the game’s MVP after going 11-11 from the floor in a career-high 32-point outing.  Four days earlier, the two teams had met in Madison Square Garden with first place at stake.  LIU shot 57.1 percent from the field in the game to post an 86-77 triumphas both Boyd (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Olasewere (21 points, 11 rebounds) posted double-doubles.  St. Francis (NY) junior forward Akeem Johnson (Brooklyn, NY/Susan S. McKinney) had two outstanding outings, averaging 23.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg.  He scored a career-high 24 points in the game at MSG.

Key Stat: Olasewere, the Choice Hotels NEC Co-Player of the Week, compiled 26.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg and shot 73.1 percent from the floor.

Garden State Rivalry Series
Monmouth earned the Governor Codey Trophy for the second straight year with a sweep of Fairleigh Dickinson.  The Hawks raced out to a 22-point first half lead in a televised game at the Rothman Center on Wednesday, then withstood a second half rally by the Knights to win, 75-62.  It was a much tighter game in West Long Branch on Saturday as Monmouth was nursing a three-point lead with under 13 minutes to play when freshman Andrew Nicholas (Wrightsville, PA/Eastern York) started an 11-0 run with a three-pointer and layup en-route to an 82-68 victory.

Key Stat: Monmouth received a combined 69 points from its bench over the two games.

Keystone Clash
Robert Morris swept Saint Francis (PA) (78-74 and 70-56) for the fourth straight year and has now won nine straight against its Western Pennsylvania rivals.  The Colonials fell behind by 11 in the first half on Wednesday in Loretto, but assumed control with a 10-0 run early in the second stanza.  The Red Flash chipped away at a double digit deficit and pulled to within two on two occasions in the final minute, but two free throws apiece from Velton Jones (Philadelphia, PA/Northeast Catholic) and Coron Williams (Midlothian, VA/Christchurch School) iced the game.  The Colonials forced 24 turnovers on Saturday with Williams scoring a game-high 18 points.

Key Stat: Wlliams hit 7-11 from three-point range and averaged 15.5 points in the two games

New England Knockout
It was the Shane Gibson (Killingly, CT/Killingly) show once again as the junior guard put on two memorable performances in Sacred Heart’s sweep of Bryant.  The Choice Hotels NEC Co-Player of the Week averaged 32.0 points on 63.6 percent shooting from the floor.  He also hit 8-16 from three-point range.  The Pioneers had to hold off the hard-charging Bulldogs at home on Wednesday as Bryant nearly erased a 14-point second half deficit.  After Bryant pulled to within one with 5:56 to play, Gibson scored eight points and Sacred Heart iced the game at the line for a 79-77 victory.  The Pioneers had no such trouble on Saturday, winning in Smithfield by a 72-46 final score.

Key Stat: Sacred Heart shot a blazing 58.7 percent from the floor in the two games.

North-South Showdown
Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner, while not traditional rivals, had their own motivations heading into Rivalry Week.  The Mount was fighting to secure an NEC playoff berth, while Wagner looked to keep pace with LIU Brooklyn in its quest for the regular season crown.  It was the Seahawks who emerged victorious on both nights, posting a 59-44 win in Emmitsburg, before claiming a 74-58 victory back home at the Spiro Center.  The Seahawks limited the Mount to a combined 37.1 percent shooting from the floor.

Key Stat: Wagner junior forward Jonathon Williams (Richmond, CA/Kennedy (City College of San Francisco)) averaged 16.5 points and shot 61.9 percent from the field over the two-game series.

Connecticut Collision
One of the NEC’s hottest teams, Quinnipiac took two from Constitution State rival Central Connecticut to extend its win streak to four and take over sole possession of fifth place.  The Bobcats put on a defensive clinic on Wednesday, holding the Blue Devils to 26.8 percent shooting from the field in a 72-44 win in Hamden.  Sunday brought a much more competitive game in New Britain, but once again, the Quinnipiac defense proved to be the difference, limiting CCSU to just two points over the final 10:24 as the Bobcats flipped a six point deficit into a 67-59 victory.

Key Stat: Quinnipiac freshman forward Ike Azotam (Boston, MA/John D. O’Bryant (Marianapolis Prep)) averaged 16.0 ppg and 9.0 rpg, including a 15/10 double-double on Sunday.


– Feb. 16, 2012 –

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