The field is set, but seeding and homecourt is TBD.
Only one weekend of regular season play remains in NEC women’s hoops, but the jockeying for positioning continues.
Quinnipiac (13-3) pulled into a tie with Sacred Heart (13-3) for the race for first. Meanwhile, Robert Morris, Monmouth, and Saint Francis (PA) all have matching 10-6 marks. LIU Brooklyn and Mount St. Mary’s are both 9-7 with Fairleigh Dickinson right behind at 8-8.
In other words, it’s time to dust off the NEC’s tiebreaker policy.
Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac are guaranteed to be No. 1 and No. 2 but not necessarily in that order. As for the other six slots, we will save that for another blog post.
State of the NEC Men’s Race
Whether you expected it or not, Robert Morris is making a run. Whether it was Russell Johnson or the promising young Lucky Jones, the Colonials always seemed to have been missing a piece during conference play. But that hasn’t stopped Andy Toole’s team from grinding out victories. The tough-nosed brand of basketball has yielded yet another 20-plus win season for the program, its fourth in five years. The Colonials beat back Bryant and Central Connecticut last week to keep pace with St. Francis (NY) for third place in the NEC race and guarantee themselves a NEC Tournament quarterfinal round home game. Robert Morris, which has made three straight NEC Championship Game appearances, is the lone team to boast a win over defending champion LIU Brooklyn this season.
If Robert Morris is hot, then Wagner and LIU are in flames. The former has won seven in a row while the latter owns a league-best eight-game win streak. Dan Hurley’s Seahawks (14-2) still have hopes of catching Jim Ferry’s Blackbirds (15-1) for the No. 1 seed in the NEC Tournament, but would need two wins coupled with two LIU losses to achieve that end. LIU won both regular season meetings between these two with the last one coming before a national TV audience on ESPNU.
Sacred Heart, Saint Francis (PA), and Mount St. Mary’s are in a tussle for the final NEC Tournament berth. The Pioneers have the easiest path to the postseason as Overtime! contributor Ron Ratner breaks it down below.
Sacred Heart is in the driver’s seat for the final NEC playoff berth, and can clinch with a win over Robert Morris or Saint Francis (PA) this week. The Pioneers can also qualify with Mount St. Mary’s and Saint Francis (PA) both losing one of their final two games. Mount St. Mary’s can get in by winning its final two games combined with Sacred Heart losing twice this week. Saint Francis (PA) has a difficult path to the postseason, needing a pair of wins, coupled with two Sacred Heart setbacks and a Mount loss, and for Monmouth to finish ahead of CCSU in the standings.
Weekend’s No. 1 NEC Hoops Tweet
@hEy_m0lly – expecting a dunk outta @L_Booggie24 tonight #leggo #rmcmb
Needless to say 35 seconds into Saturday’s game against Central Connecticut, this fan got her wish as Lawrence Bridges threw one down off a nice feed from Velton Jones. Bridges finished 4-for-4 from the floor and Robert Morris went onto win 68-60, a nice senior sendoff for Bridges.
This One’s For You! RMU’s Lawrence Bridges dunks on Senior Day at the Sewall Center.
Four Favorite Storylines from Hoops-filled Presidents’ Day
After 44 minutes of play, there was still no separation between Saint Francis (PA) and Central Connecticut on Monday night. Finally, Alli Williams said “Enough!” Well, we don’t know if she actually uttered the word or not, but she sure played as if she wanted the game to end. Williams poured in 12 points during the second overtime period, single-handedly outscoring Central Connecticut and sending the Flash to an 86-83 triumph.
The Sewall Center was the site of Artemis Spanou’s fifth straight double-double and Robert Morris’ fourth consecutive win on Monday night. Spanou put up 24 points (her ninth 20-point performance) and 15 rebounds to fatten the cushion between her and Sacred Heart’s Callan Taylor on the NEC’s double-doubles leader board. The 2011 NEC Rookie of the Year has a conference-high 17 doubles-doubles this season, while Taylor, the league’s all-time career leader in the category (51), has 13.
The nation’s leader in steals per game had only two thefts in Monday’s Presidents’ Day matinee, but still remains Division I’s top thief. Quinnipiac’s Felicia Barron is inching closer to the NCAA’s individual statistical championship in steals. Her 4.3 spg top the national leader board with Bethune Cookman’s Demetria Frank (4.0 spg) behind in second.
Mount St. Mary’s is surging and will have the chance to continue its prime play in the postseason. The Mountaineers topped Monmouth on Monday night to guarantee themselves a return trip to the NEC Tournament following an uncharacteristic two-year absence. The Mount had participated in the event for 20 consecutive seasons prior to its short-lived drought. Syd Henderson has had the hot hand for the Mountaineers. The Virginian scored 19 points apiece in victories over the NEC’s two Garden State-based members.
Twitter Activity Before and After Mount’s NEC Tournament-clinching victory…
@CoachLSteele – Win and we’re in. Game day!!!
@Ncast2016 – @MountAthletics congrats to the women’s basketball team for clinching a playoff berth
@TFitz_Deca8K – Congrats to the Mount WBB team for clinching a spot in the NEC playoffs.. Good win vs Monmouth
@MountAthletics – Mount women’s basketball will participate in the NEC Tournament for the 21st time in 23 years.
Overtime! Picks Five Stars for the Week in Women’s Hoops
Ashley Palmer (LIU Brooklyn)
The senior forward averaged 27.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game against the top two teams in the NEC standings – Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac – who own a combined 26-6 league record. How’s that for big numbers against top-quality competition? Pretty good if you ask us.
27.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 50% FG, 92% FT, 39.0 mpg
Alli Williams (Saint Francis [PA])
The Flash’s No. 1 scoring option was just that down the stretch of an 86-83 double-overtime victory over Central Connecticut. Allowing her team to keep pace with Robert Morris for third place in the NEC, the 6-foot forward from Altoona twice tied the game in the final minute of regulation and then accounted for all 12 of the Flash’s point in the decisive second overtime period. Oh, and two days earlier, she had 16 points and 13 rebounds against Bryant on NEC-TV.
21.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 3.5 spg, 54.8% FG, 100% FT, 38.5 mpg
Artemis Spanou (Robert Morris)
At this point, the 6-foot sophomore forward is a double-double nearly every night out. Her 24 points and 15 rebounds in Robert Morris’ win over Bryant on Monday night represented her fifth consecutive double-double. Spanou, the league leader in double-doubles (17) and rebounding (10.8 rpg), averaged a NEC-best 14.0 boards last week. Even more impressive, she committed only one turnover in 69 minutes of action.
19.5 ppg, 14.0 rpg, 41% FG, 83% FT, 34.5 mpg
Callan Taylor (Sacred Heart)
Continuing her climb up Sacred Heart’s all-time scoring and rebounding charts, the NEC’s all-time leader in double-doubles nearly averaged a double-double again last week. Her 14 points and eight rebounds helped the Pioneers grind out a win over St. Francis (NY) Saturday in Brooklyn. On Monday, the Pride of Overland Park, KS nearly logged her second 30-point performance of the season. Taylor poured in 29, on 13-for-20 shooting, in a setback to LIU.
21.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 55% FG, 100% FT, 39.0 mpg
Syd Henderson (Mount St. Mary’s)
Syd the Kid is back on the floor and the Mount is back in the postseason. After missing all but one game in the 2010-11 season due to injury, Henderson has been the team’s leading scorer during her bounce-back year. She put together back-to-back 19-point showings to help the Mount sweep the NEC’s Garden State contingent.
19.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, 39% FG, 50% 3FG, 78% FT, 35.5 mpg
Highlights from LIU Brooklyn’s win over Sacred Heart…
Postgame Reaction from Charlie Buscaglia following RMU’s win over Bryant…
Highlights from a Monday Night in Moon…
– Feb. 21, 2012 –