STARTING LINEUP: HAPPY NEC NEW YEAR!
Non-conference play came and went (with the exception of one last non-conference tilt on Wednesday night between Mount St. Mary’s and Radford), the holiday breaks are over, and, now, the NEC New Year is finally upon us!
The road to the 2019 NEC Women’s Basketball Championship officially hits high gear on Saturday afternoon with the first of 10 consecutive conference play weekends, which lead right into March and the eventual crowning of a league champion on St. Patrick’s Day.
If we are going to be honest, NEC teams missed on some opportunities during non-conference play in 2018.
Collectively, the league racked up 25 victories over Division 1 opponents, which included teams from the America East, Ivy League, Mid-Eastern, Atlantic Sun, Colonial, Patriot, Big South, Atlantic-10, Metro Atlantic, Western Athletic, and Ohio Valley conferences.
There weren’t any Power 5 wins such as Sacred Heart over SEC member Auburn in 2010 or LIU Brooklyn over the Big 12’s Oklahoma State in 2012, but all NEC teams managed to produce some noteworthy highlights as they put in the preparations for the upcoming conference season.
Here is a brief glance at each team’s non-conference accomplishments and where they stand going into the 2019 conference season…
Statistically speaking, there is no better rebounder in the history of the Northeast Conference than Artemis Spanou.
Robert Morris’ senior forward set the league’s all-time career rebounding record during a double-digit victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Jan. 13.
Treating the home crowd at the Sewall Center to another monster double-double performance, Spanou pulled down her 20th, and final, rebound of the night to pass former WNBA Draft pick Jess Zinobile, a member of the NEC Hall of Fame’s Inaugural Class, for first place in league annals.
Spanou, who totaled 14 points and 20 rebounds during the 66-51 win, has 1,296 career rebounds. The Greek-born forward and Zinobile (1,295) are the lone two women in NEC history to reach the 1,200-carom mark.
There have been exactly 220 basketball games involving NEC teams this season prior to Christmas.
There has been plenty to remember.
There have been wins by the Fairleigh Dickinson men over AAC (Rutgers) and Big East (Seton Hall) members.
Jason Brickman, who eventually became the conference’s all-time career assist leader, and LIU Brooklyn took Indiana to the brink. Glenn Braica’s St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers topped 2013 ACC champion Miami (FL) and nearly had an upset for the ages over Syracuse.
On the women’s side, John Thurston’s Terriers have continued the program’s turnaround. SFBK is off to its best start (8-2) in four decades and their only two losses have come to members of major conferences.
Meanwhile, Robert Morris’ Artemis Spanou extended her streak of consecutive double-double performances to 33 in a row, accounting for the second-longest span in NCAA Division I history.
The notable accomplishments have been plentiful as have the superb plays.
NEC Front Row has put together a collection of the season’s top plays to date.
The piece divides the top plays from the 2013 non-conference season into four categories – Dominant Dunks, Attentive Assists, Terrific Threes and Buzzer Beaters.