Mount St. Mary’s senior Junior Robinson was unanimously chosen by the league’s head coaches as the NEC Player of the Year. The conference’s leading scorer received the honor on the eve of Wednesday’s NEC Tournament quarterfinal games.
The league announced its major award winners and all-conference honorees on Tuesday afternoon via Twitter.
Wagner clinched the top seed more than one week ago and the rest of the pieces fell into place as the #NECMBB regular season wound down.
Defending champion Mount St. Mary’s snatched the No. 2 seed with No. 3 Saint Francis U and No. 4 LIU Brooklyn joining the Mount as quarterfinal game hosts.
The tournament tips off on February 28 with all four quarters set for 7:00 pm ET. The semifinal round will unfold on March 3 with the #NECMBB Championship Game happening on March 6 on ESPN2. All games will be played at the home sites of the higher seeds.
Welcome to the Northeast Conference Hall of Fame, Mike Iuzzolino, Lesley Renninger and Howie Dickenman!
This year’s three-member class raises the total number of names enshrined in Somerset to 29.
Here’s something you should know about each of the three newest honorees.
Mike Iuzzolino (Saint Francis U)
Before going on to star in the NBA Jam video game alongside Dallas Mavericks teammate Derek Harper, Iuzzolino was responsible for arguably the most-impressive individual two-year stretch in the league’s 37 seasons of men’s basketball. SFU’s Academic All-American shot 52.3 percent from three-point range while piling up 1,346 points in two seasons after transferring from Penn State.
Lesley Renninger (LIU Brooklyn)
Her collegiate career ended 25 years ago, but there is still no LIU pitcher with a better career earned-run average than Renninger. The Academic All-American, who helped the Blackbirds to a conference crown as a freshman, won 55 of her 71 decisions in the circle.
Howie Dickenman (Central Connecticut)
Coach D, a mentor and friend to so many, bleeds CCSU blue. The former Blue Devil hoops star returned to his alma mater as the head men’s basketball coach in 1996 and proceeded to win four NEC Coach of the Year awards while thrice taking CCSU to the Big Dance.
The highly-anticipated Keystone State Clash lived up to its billing.
It was looking as if the headlines would be about a Jess Kovatch-led road win over the defending champions, but there were still 3:12 remaining.
Becoming the first NEC athlete to eclipse the 40-point mark this season, Kovatch buried a triple to run her single-game total to 42 points while bumping the Saint Francis U’s lead to 60-54.
Then, the Robert Morris defense, which leads the league in two major categories, clamped down. The Colonials allowed only an Ace Harrison layup over the final 3:12 and found themselves facing a 62-60 deficit with time for one final possession.
As the seconds ticked away with RMU controlling the ball in the frontcourt, Nina Augustin found senior Megan Smith who buried a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
The dramatic 63-62 victory was the Colonials fifth win in a row and the team’s 10th in its last 11 outings.
The defending champions now stand alone atop the NEC standings at 5-0 with SFU (4-1) sitting 1.0 game back in second place.
These two rivals will meet again in Loretto on February 3 in what will be the featured #NECWBB Game of the Week on ESPN3. They have split the regular season series each of the past four years.
And this can be the difference in big games. 1 possession. 1 play. 1 shot. 1 FT. 1 false or delayed step or reaction….And 1 shot w 1.8 seconds on clock. tip your hat to #22 Smith. And come back next week and get 1 play better. pic.twitter.com/WlLp0lOo3d