Northeast Conference Campus Tour (February 27, 2013) – A quick trip across the campuses of the NEC’s 12 member institutions

Bryant – The Bulldogs are billing it the “Fight for First.”  On Thursday night, Robert Morris will invade the Chace Center in a battle that could wind up determining who takes the No. 1 seed in the upcoming NEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.  While Robert Morris (12-4), which has appeared in each of the last four NEC Championship Games, sits in first, Bryant (11-5) is only 1.0 game back on the Colonials.  The head-to-head matchup gives the Bulldogs an even better opportunity to possibly leapfrog RMU and earn home-court advantage through the postseason conference tournament.  The game will air live on Feb. 28 at 7:00 pm via NECFrontRow.com. Read more.

 

Central Connecticut – The Blue Devils have amended Saturday’s basketball schedule at Detrick Gymnasium to accommodate the NEC-TV cameras.  With the NEC selecting CCSU’s impending matchup with Robert Morris as it “Final Weekend Wildcard TV Game,” the Blue Devils and Colonials have a new tip-off time of 11:33 am.  The game will air live on MSG and Fox College Sports (Check Your Local Listings).  As a result of the men’s change, CCSU women’s team will play at 2:00 pm. Read more.

Fairleigh Dickinson – They currently lead the standings, but will that still be the case when the NEC Spring Meet is complete.  Having won 13 of its first 18 NEC bowling matches, Fairleigh Dickinson has the inside track toward the NEC regular season crown.  The Knights, who are the nation’s No. 7 team in the latest NTCA Top 20 Poll, will head to Strike 10 Lanes in Brooklyn to meet its fellow league members for the third, and final, regular season NEC-sponsored competition.  Set for March 2-3, the NEC Spring Meet will follow a traditional team play format throughout. Read more.

 

LIU Brooklyn – The Blackbirds’ bowling program has come a long way in its four-plus years of existence.  This past weekend’s happenings provided more evidence of just how far LIU has come.  Brittany Hart, Karen Diosa, Mariah Hatfield and Co. posted a first-place showing at the annual ECAC Championship meet.  The Blackbirds, who are the No. 16-ranked team in America, topped tournament host Adelphi to clinch the team title on Sunday.  One day earlier, Hart won the ECAC Single Championship.  Read more.

Rp_primary_bowling_ecac

Monmouth – King Rice and the Hawks will host Mount St. Mary’s in a Thursday night (Feb. 28) tussle at the Jersey Shore.  It will be the next-to-last home game for Monmouth’s men’s basketball team, which will close out the regular season on March 2 against Wagner.  Although the Hawks were officially eliminated from postseason contention last week, they can still affect the playoff race.  The Mount and Wagner both have hopes of finish in the top-third of the NEC standings so that they may host NEC Tournament quarterfinal contest.  Read more.

Mount St. Mary’s – So, OK, nobody’s perfect! After notching two noteworthy wins over Delaware and Bucknell, the Mount came up short in its latest men’s lacrosse contest against No. 6 Virginia.  The Cavaliers topped the Mountaineers, 18-11, on Tuesday night, Feb. 26 in Charlottesville. Brett Schmidt scored thrice for the Mount, which will next face Towson at home on March 2.  Read more.

Quinnipiac – Tricia Fabbri’s Bobcats have yet to lose this calendar year.  At 25-2, Quinnipiac is making a case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.  In terms of mid-major programs, the Bobcats are one of the nation’s best.  The latest edition of the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25 Poll has Quinnipiac in the No. 10 spot. Read more.

Robert Morris – Ashley Ravelli is becoming a household name in Northeast Conference women’s basketball circles.  The Italian-born freshman won the Choice Hotels NEC Rookie of the Week award for the third time this season thanks to her latest two-game swing.  Ravelli, who leads all NEC freshmen with 56 three-pointers made, averaged 16.5 points per game last week.  Read more.

Rmu_ravelli

Sacred Heart – It’s Valentine’s Day all year long at Sacred Heart University.  SHU President John J. Petillo introduced former Major League Baseball manager Bobby Valentine as the school’s incoming Executive Director of Athletics.  Valentine, who took the New York Mets to the 2000 World Series, will take over for the retiring Don Cook, who was recently enshrined into the NEC Hall of Fame.  Read more.

Bobby_v_img_4950

 

St. Francis Brooklyn – It’ll be a special Saturday in Brooklyn Heights come March 2.  St. Francis College will host its “Shoot for a Cure” and “National Girls and Women In Sports Day” events in conjunction with its NEC hoops doubleheader. Read more.

13_02_27_megobrienngwsd

Saint Francis U – The Red Flash are heading to Boston with a title to defend.  Looking for a fourth consecutive NEC Swimming & Diving team championship, Saint Francis will contest the four-day, seven-team title meet in Beantown.  Individually, Elise Lofgren will take aim at her third straight gold medal in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke. The meet opens on Wednesday night, February 27 at 7:00 pm.  The 200 medley relay final is first followed by the 800 free relay final.  Read more

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13_02_26_meghan_swim

Wagner – If you weren’t watching last Sunday night, you missed a pretty good one on Grymes Hill.  Wagner outlasted two-time defending NEC champion LIU Brooklyn in a marquee men’s hoops matchup that aired live on ESPNU.  The nationally-televised broadcast was decided on Kenny Ortiz’s putback layup with 0.8 second remaining on the clock.  Read more.

 

Northeast Conference – The latest edition of the NEC On The Run Hoops Video Podcast is now available.  This week’s show features an interview with St. Francis Brooklyn WBB head coach John Thurston, the #NEC9 and MUCH MORE!

 

The NEC Beamed Coast To Coast On ESPNU Sunday…And Produced An Instant Classic

From the opening tip to game-winning bucket, this one was special.  And if you were watching the Oscars, well, you missed out on one of the best NEC-TV games ever.

Before a nationwide audience on ESPN (watch full game replay) local rivals and NEC contenders LIU Brooklyn and Wagner went toe-to-toe before a charged up, packed house at the Spiro Center.  The game had everything you can ask for: spectacular dunks and rejections, scintillating three-point shooting, some of the niftiest passes you will see, a furious comeback, and finally, a buzzer-beater shot.

Wagner used a swarming defensive effort to rally from a 13-point first half deficit and found itself with a 10-point lead with under two minutes remaining in the game.  But the two-time defending NEC champs had one last push.

“I won’t say I felt like we had a 10-point lead but to be honest I was extremely comfortable and confident feeling like we were going to win the game,” said Wagner head coach Bashir Mason.

Back-to-back three-pointers cut the lead to 88-84, and after a number of missed opportunities on both ends, LIU junior guard Jason Brickman (San Antonio, TX/Clark) banked in a trifecta to slice the lead to one point with 34 seconds left on the clock.  Wagner junior guard Latif Rivers (Elizabeth, NJ/Elizabeth (Avon Old Farms (CT)) and Brickman each hit a pair of free throws, then Rivers sank two more to put Wagner’s lead at 92-89 at the 21 second mark.  Brickman brought the ball up the court and calmly sank another three to even the game at 92 with just under 13 seconds to play, setting up Wagner’s decisive final possession. 

Rivers took time off the clock dribbling by midcourt, drove to his left and misfired on a runner off the top of the backboard, but junior guard Kenneth Ortiz (Newark, NK/Science Park (Southern Mississippi)) was right there for the putback with 0.8 seconds showing to give the Seahawks the 94-92 win.

It didn’t take long for Twitter to react.

Craig D’Amico ‏@CraigCD13

Add Wagner/LIU-Brooklyn to the Top 13 NEC Games of 2013 list!

Andrew Chiappazzi ‏@achiappazzi

I think my head just exploded. Tie at the Oscars, madness at LIU/Wagner. All in the same few seconds.

John Templon ‏@nybuckets

Brickman for 3!! This has been a fascinating basketball game. ESPNU getting everything it wanted from #NECMBB.

GiantsWFAN ‏@giantswfan

wild finish as #Wagner stops #LIU in men’s hoops tonight, 94-92…@NECSports rockin’ it!

Ron Ratner ‏@NECHoopsRon

I’ve worked here at @NECsports for 15 yrs & that was top-3 in gms we’ve televised. Two good tms going toe-to-toe on national TV. #NECPride

LISA CERMIGNANO ‏@CERMIGNANOL

Congrats to Coach Bashir and Wagner Men’s basketball with huge win over LIU! @BashirMason pic.twitter.com/v547xtKKlP

“I was just in the right place at the right time and I made the shot,” said Ortiz.

For Ortiz, this wasn’t the first time he’s played the role of hero at Wagner.  Last season, Ortiz hit an over-the-backboard-falling-out-of-bounds buzzer-beater to nip Santa Clara 64-62 in the championship of the Cable Car Classic.  He has hit a pair of game-winners this season and four over the course of his career.

“He has a knack,” said Mason.  “Kenny knows how to rebound, and he was in good position.  But in a nutshell, the bottom line is they are a very good team and we just outscored them at the finish.”

It was a frenetic finish for sure.

“I was thinking, ‘Ok, let’s get a stop with 13 seconds left,”’ said LIU Brooklyn’s Jamal Olasewere (Silver Spring, MD/Springbrook), who finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.  “I think some of our players got confused, they thought we were pressing.  I guess they didn’t know the time and score so it kind of got scattered.  I was hoping Latif would miss it, but Kenny did a good job of getting the rebound and scoring so credit to them.”

These two teams could potentially see each other again in the NEC Tournament, but to the players involved in yesterday’s clash, in a claustrophobic Spiro Center, with so much on the line, it may as well have been a playoff game.

“It sounded like a championship game,” said Olasewere.

Felt like one too.

February 25, 2013


 

The Overtime! Tweet of the Weekend

13_02_24_wag_espnu

Now do yourself a favor and tune into some awesome NEC hoops action on ESPNU. LIU Brooklyn will cross the Verrazano Bridge to take on Wagner before a live national TV audience on Sunday, February 24 at 8:00 pm. Bob Picozzi (play-by-play) and former Wagner head coach Dereck Whittenburg (color) will be on the call.

Other Top Tweets on the Game

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Northeast Conference Campus Tour (February 22, 2013) – A quick trip across the campuses of the NEC’s 12 member institutions

Bryant – The preseason favorite to win the 2013 NEC baseball title opens its season in the Lone Star State.  Steve Owens’ Bulldogs will contest a three-game weekend set at Houston Baptist, beginning on Friday, February 22.  With the first pitch on Friday, the Bulldogs will be officially underway on their first season of full Division I eligibility. The reigning Northeast Conference regular-season champions, Bryant is coming off a season in which it was 33-21 overall and 24-8 in league play. Read more.

Central Connecticut – Beryl Piper’s Blue Devils are on the rebound. After dropping five straight games, Central Connecticut posted its second win in a row on Wednesday.  In a makeup game, which was originally scheduled for the weekend that Winter Storm Nemo hit, the Blue Devils topped LIU Brooklyn to even their NEC record up at 7-7.  CCSU, which is currently tied for sixth place in the NEC standings, will travel to Bryant (Feb. 23) and Sacred Heart (Feb. 25) this weekend. Read more.

Fairleigh Dickinson – The Knights won’t play their first game until March 1 when they visit Savannah State, but they will ceremoniously open the 2013 baseball season on Saturday, February 23.  Head coach Gary Puccio and Co. will host the annual Jon Bittman First Pitch Dinner at the Park Ridge Marriott, welcoming back a number of alumni and friends of the program.  Puccio will also name his Opening Day starting pitcher at the dinner with the legendary Jon Bittman presenting that lucky hurler with the ball.  Read more.

 

LIU Brooklyn – The names of Blackbirds were peppered all over the list of 2013 All-NEC Indoor Track & Field honorees.  LIU’s men’s team garnered a league-high 10 selections, one more than 2013 NEC team champion Monmouth.  Veteran sprinter Nickolei Mahlung was one of six Blackbirds to earn a spot on the All-NEC First Team. The graduate student sprinted to victory in the 60m dash at the conference title meet earlier this month, tying the NEC record (6.77) originally set by Sacred Heart’s Arman Dixon.  Read more.

Liu_nickmahlung

Monmouth – The Hawks opened their 2013 baseball slate by posting a 7-6 win over Villanova on February 15, but saw the rest of its weekend at the Ron Fraser Classic washed out. This weekend, Monmouth will hope for better weather in Nashville, TN as Dean Ehehalt’s club takes on SEC member Vanderbilt.  The Hawks and the No. 4 Commodores will play a three-game weekend series that begins on Friday, February 22. Read more.

Mount St. Mary’s – Jamion Christian’s Mountaineers are on fire, causing mayhem for their opponents on the hardwood.  Playing their high-energy style, the Mountaineers topped two-time defending NEC champion LIU Brooklyn, 83-71, to extend its win streak to four.   With the postseason tournament looming , the red-hot Sam Prescott and his mates will look to further strengthen its NEC standing when they host St. Francis Brooklyn on Saturday, February 23.  The game, which will air live on www.necfrontrow.com, will be the final home date on the Mount’s regular season schedule. Read more.

Quinnipiac – Less than two weeks removed from the Bobcats’ highest team finish in their history at the NEC Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships, head coach Carolyn Martin received some rightful recognition.  The NEC named Martin its Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year after Quinnipiac cracked the top half of the team standings for the first time in 14 years at the meet.  Read more.

Robert Morris – The Colonials will welcome Garden State-based Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth to western Pennsylvania for a pair of crucial women’s hoops contests this weekend.  Robert Morris, which will celebrate its Senior Day against FDU on Feb. 23, sits at 6-7 in NEC play. That mark places them one-half game behind Bryant for the eighth, and final, spot in the upcoming NEC Tournament.  Read more.

Sacred Heart – One of the more intense rivalries NEC women’s basketball has known over recent years will be renewed come Saturday, February 23.  Sacred Heart, the defending NEC champion, will host intra-state rival Quinnipiac.  Although SHU is the team coming off its third conference crown, Quinnipiac earned the moniker of NEC preseason favorite and has yet to lose to a league foe this year  Tricia Fabbri’s Bobcats (14-0) defeated Sacred Heart, 74-45, earlier in the season on January 12 in Hamden.  Now, the scene shifts to Fairfield where Sacred Heart has proven tough to beat.  The Pioneers are 11-1 at home. Read more.

Shu_huddle

St. Francis Brooklyn – The Terriers are no longer on the outside looking into the NEC men’s basketball postseason picture.  St. Francis moved into eighth place in the NEC standings thanks to a last-second win over Verrazano Bridge rival Wagner on Thursday night, February 21.  With the Terriers trailing by one in the game’s waning moments, senior guard Dre Calloway made his move to the basket and converted a layup with 2.8 seconds remaining to lift the hosts to a 76-75 win.  Read more.

 

Saint Francis U – The Red Flash were the runner-up at the 2012 NEC Men’s Soccer Championships, but they’ve added some new faces who could help them get over the hump.  Head coach Michael Caspar announced the addition of seven newcomers, who will join the program in time for the 2013-14 campaign. These seven young men represent five states, two countries and all four major positions on the field. Read more.

 

Wagner – The Seahawks welcome Verrazano Bridge rival LIU Brooklyn to Staten Island on Sunday, February 24 and the ESPNU television cameras will be there to catch the action unfold.  Wagner will host the defending NEC champions in an ever-important men’s basketball matchup.  The two teams are separated by one game in the standings and are both vying for a top-four finish in hopes of securing the right to host a NEC Tournament quarterfinal game. Read more.

 

Déjà Vu? LIU & Robert Morris Right Back Where They Started From

There are just two weeks remaining in NEC play, and to say it’s crowded at the top would be an understatement. 

But while January brought us a number of surprises, the race to the finish in February has an air of familiarity.  Look no further than the two teams tied for first place.

Here’s a refresher.

2011 NEC Championship Game: LIU Brooklyn 85, Robert Morris 82 (OT)

2012 NEC Championship Game: LIU Brooklyn 90, Robert Morris 73

 

2012-13 NEC Coaches Predicted Order of Finish: 1) LIU Brooklyn; 2) Robert Morris

2012-13 NEC Standings (as of 2/16): 1) LIU Brooklyn and Robert Morris (10-4)

Two rivals, linked by their common success, once again at the top of the pack in the NEC.

Is anyone surprised?

Mbbstandings_2_16_13

LIU Brooklyn and Robert Morris enter play this week tied for first place with 10-4 NEC marks. 

The Blackbirds have won four straight and are 10-1 in their last 11 games following an 0-3 start. 

“Our guys have been resilient,” said LIU head coach Jack Perri after Saturday’s win over FDU.  “They keep their poise and we still have a lot of seniors, and that’s big.

Likewise, the Colonials are 10-2 in their last 12 outings.  Should the two teams wind up in dead heat at season’s end, the tiebreaker would go to RMU by way of its 60-57 win over LIU on February 2.

But by no means is their lofty perch secure.  And that’s because they have company, and plenty of it at that.

Within one game of the two NEC powers are Bryant, a half-game back at 9-4, followed by Wagner (9-5) and Quinnipiac (8-5).

So not only is the race for the NEC regular season title looking like a classic battle, but the race for a top-four spot could be epic.

In the NEC Tournament, a top-four spot guarantees a team a home game in the quarterfinals, so the difference between being the four and five seed is huge.  This isn’t the case in leagues in which the tourney is contested at a neutral site.

Entering play this week, Quinnipiac and Wagner are straddling the four-five line, and both teams are red-hot after weekend sweeps. Quinnipiac has won six of its last seven games, while the Seahawks have won six-of-eight.

“My expectations for them were that they’d be at a certain level quicker,” said Tom Moore, Quinnipiac’s sixth year head coach. “It just didn’t happen.  I had to step off and let it evolve a little bit and let them breathe.”

“I think we’re getting healthy at the right time,” said Wagner first year head coach Bashir Mason.  “All year we’d been dealing with injuries and guys going in and out of the lineup. Now I think we’re getting into a really good groove.”

Both squads are nipping at the heels of Bryant, which had led the league all season until falling twice on the road last week.  The Bulldogs still have to make up a game with Sacred Heart, which accounts for the half-game separation in the standings.

Bubbling under is another white hot team in Mount St. Mary’s (7-7 NEC).  Mount Mayhem ran wild last week with a huge win over Bryant (84-70) on Thursday, followed by an NEC-TV victory over CCSU (89-80) two days later.  The Mountaineers, who hit 26 three-pointers in the sweep, have won three in a row and five-of-six to pull to within a half-game of sixth place Sacred Heart (7-6).

“When I drew up how I wanted our team to look and how I wanted our team to play, I think we’re starting to shape into that,” said the Mount’s Jamion Christian, another first year head coach.  “I think we have a very talented basketball team scoring the ball.  I know for a large part of the year I was probably the only guy who thought that.”

And then there is the battle for inclusion, otherwise known as a top-eight spot in the standings.

CCSU currently owns the key to the final NEC Tournament spot with a 6-7 record, but St. Francis Brooklyn is just a half-game behind at 6-8.  And then there is 5-9 Monmouth, which scored a huge 73-64 win over the Terriers on Saturday to stay right in the mix.

We’re headed down the backstretch, just 16 days away from the start of March Madness.

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And the best part? 

It promises to be a wild ride getting there.

February 18, 2013

 

Oh What A Night!

Following a 55-point playoff outing, former NBA great Allen Iverson once remarked, “I got into one of those rhythms where the basket looks like an ocean. I just was just throwing rocks in.”

On Thursday, there were two NEC players who may have well been tossing rocks into the Atlantic, and the good folks at ESPN were all over it on Twitter.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Sam Prescott + Kyle Vinales repped NEC well tonight. Each scored 40+ pts. Last time a D-I conference had 2 40-pt scorers in day: 2008 (ACC)

As one ESPN announcer put it, “The NEC is ballin’ right now.”

Mount St. Mary’s junior guard Sam Prescott (Philadelphia, PA/Imhotep Charter) dropped a Mount DI record 44 points in an 84-70 win over first place Bryant and CCSU sophomore guard Kyle Vinales (Detroit, MI/Phelps School) netted a CCSU DI record 42 points in a setback at Wagner.

It marked the first time in NEC history that two players racked up 40 points on the same night.

For Prescott, the good vibes began earlier in the day.

“I woke up this morning, I knew I was ready to play,” said Prescott.  “That’s all it took.”

Prescott finished his evening hitting 16-24 shots from the floor, including 10-14 from three-point range.

Let the superlatives begin.

    – The last NEC player to score 44 or more points was LIU’s Antawn Dobie, who scored a league-record 53 against St. Francis Brooklyn on February 22, 2003.

    – It also marked the most points in an NEC game since Bryant’s Alex Francis (Harlem, NY/Holderness Prep (NH)) had 43 against LIU on February 24, 2011.

    – The 44 points tied LIU’s Charles Jones for eighth on the NEC single-game list.

    – Prescott became the fourth player in school history (104 seasons) to score 44 or more points in a game, joining Jack Sullivan (seven times), Dave Maloney and Mike Tate.  The last Mountaineer to reach 44 points was Tate against Kutztown State on November 24, 1987.

    – Chris McGuthrie held the previous Mount record for points in a game at the NCAA Division I level.  McGuthrie scored 41 points in an 80-69 win over Robert Morris on February 19, 1996.- The 44 points established a new Knott Arena mark for a Mount player, and was the second-most ever  scored at the venue behind the 45 tallied by Marist’s Izett Buchanan in 1992.

    – The 10 three-pointers tied for the second-most in an NEC game and matched the Mount school record held by Scott Murphy.

Most Three-Pointers in an NEC Game

1. Joey Mundweiler (WC) – 11 vs. Monmouth (2/28/09)

2. Scott Murphy (MSM) – 10 vs. Wagner (2/7/91)
    Tristan Blackwood (CCSU) – 10 vs. RMU (2/22/07)
    Corey Hassan (SHU) – 10 vs. Wagner (1/30/10)
    Sam Prescott (MSM) – 10 vs. Bryant (2/14/14) 

“I am at a loss for words, honestly,” said Prescott after the game.

“You don’t hear anything. The man guarding you is a blur.  It didn’t matter who came out there…tonight was just my night.”

Prescott’s career night also earned him recognition on SportsCenter’s Top-10 plays and as the Lou Henson Mid-Major Player of the Week.

The Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week would go on to average 31.0 points and 6.0 rebounds, while shooting 59.5 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from three-point range on the week.

Up on Grymes Hill, the NEC’s top point producer was in a zone of his own.

On a night when the explosive CCSU scorer netted his 1,000th point (see note below), Vinales sank 12-24 shots from the field and hit 8-13 shots from long distance, tying a career-high.

It was his first career 40-point game, and his seventh at 30 or more.  In 52 career games, Vinales has now scored 1,029 points.

The 42 points represent the second-highest single game total in CCSU history, behind only Paul Zajac’s 47 points in the 1966-67 season (CCSU was Division II at the time).  It topped Vinales’ career-high of 39 set last season.

Vinales, who wound up averaging 33.0 ppg on the week, also shattered the Spiro Center scoring record in the process.

Two players, one magical night.

February 18, 2013

 

Mr. Clutch Strikes Again (and Hits a Pretty Impressive Milestone): A Day In The Life of RMU’s Velton Jones

The legend of Velton Jones (Philadelphia, PA/Northeast Catholic) continues to grow.

On Saturday, the battered and bruised Robert Morris senior guard gave it a go at LIU Brooklyn despite injuring his shoulder and playing just two minute at St. Francis Brooklyn two days earlier.  Clearly in pain, Jones’ value to his team came not so much in the way of numbers, but more along of the lines of inspiring the Colonials to a terrific road performance at the WRAC, a venue where the Blackbirds had lost just once since December, 2011 and where the Colonials had fallen short in each of the last two NEC title games.

But in the end, before a national audience on ESPNU and with the game on the line, it was the tough Philly guard who had the ball in his hands.  It was Velton being Velton.

With time winding down and the Colonials down by a point, Jones used a pick from teammate Lucky Jones (Newark, NJ/St. Anthony) to penetrate into the lane, then tossed in one of his trademark floaters that found nothing but net with ten seconds on the clock.  Following an LIU turnover, junior guard Karvel Anderson (Elkhart, IN/Elkhart (Glen Oaks CC)) hit a pair of free throws with 2.5 seconds to play and the Colonials escaped Brooklyn with a 60-57 win and sole possession of second place in the NEC with a 7-3 mark.

“Velton is a warrior,” remarked head coach Andrew Toole following the victory.  “Adrenaline is a hell of a drug.  He was huge on both ends of the floor.  He’s our heart and soul.”

“The kid made a big time shot.” said LIU head coach Jack Perri, whose team had a six-game win streak snapped.  “(Velton) Jones, as hurt as he was, was not trying to shoot most of the time.  He was driving and kicking.  We thought that was what his motive was and then the last one, he’s just a tough kid and he made the tough shot.”

Within moments of the shot, Twitter responded accordingly.

Vinny Simone ‏@VTSimone

Never seen Velton Jones do THAT #sarcasm #teardrop #RMU #LIU

Craig Meyer ‏@craig_a_meyer

That play basically encapsulates Velton Jones: doesn’t care he’s hurt, plays through it and drills what could be game winner. Tough kid

Andrew Chiappazzi ‏@achiappazzi

Velton Jones with the patented late game floater. He’s made his career off of that shot. #RMU #NEC

Ryan Peters ‏@pioneer_pride

I hear this Velton Jones kid is pretty good, eh?

For NEC and Robert Morris basketball fans, Jones will go down as one of the most clutch performers in recent memory, and his floater stands out as perhaps the most dangerous weapon of his late-game arsenal.

Just ask Quinnipiac, which fell victim to a Jones floater with 4.3 seconds left that gave the Colonials a 64-62 win over the Bobcats in the 2011 NEC semifinals.  A year earlier in his freshman season, his runner in the lane was the go-ahead bucket lifted RMU its second straight NEC crown with a 52-50 win over QU.

And while it wasn’t a floater, Jones also showed off his last-second heroics back on February 23, 2012 with a coast-to-coast jaunt and improbable lean-in shot at the buzzer to sink Sacred Heart, 55-53.

And it should be noted that all these game-winners came on the road, where Jones seems to play off the hostile energy of the home crowd.

Almost lost in the commotion of RMU’s big win on Saturday was an incredible individual milestone reached by Jones.

In the 32-year history of NEC hoops, only eight players had reached 1,500 career points and 500 career assists, that is until Jones scored his first bucket of the game.

Jones, who now has racked up 1,508 points in his four years in Moon Township, crossed the 500-assist mark on January 26 and is up to 505 for his career.  He ranks third among active NEC players in points and second in assists.  Ironically, former LIU great Dave Masicale – himself a member of the NEC’s 1,500/500 club – was in attendance on Saturday, and following the game was inducted into the LIU Athletic Hall of Fame.

NEC Players with 1,500 Points, 500 Assists

Deon Hames

RID 

1,589/598

1992-96

Dave Masicale

LIU   

1,501/504

1994-98

Gregory Harris

MSM 

1,760/529

1996-00

Rob Monroe

QU

1,685/541

2001-05

Tristan Blackwood     

CCSU

1,605/506

2004-08

Mark Porter           

WC

1,577/523

2004-08

Jeremy Goode         

MSM

1,716/603

2006-10

Jaytornah Wisseh

LIU

1,693/538

2006-10

Velton Jones   

RMU

1,508/505

2009-13

And there it is, a player with both the numbers to back up his game and the intangibles to energize teammates and fans alike.

And with every dive for a loose ball and every time he hurls his body into a scorer’s table, Jones further etches himself into both RMU and NEC lore.

February 4, 2013