The Northeast-10 and Central Atlantic Conference tournament action dominated the weekend landscape, while the East Coast Conference playoff picture was finalized. There was plenty of high drama in the final February contests, and we kick off the big recap with a pair of overtime thrillers in the NE-10 quarterfinals:
SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE 107 SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT 104 (OT)
Adrian Oliveira’s left-wing 3-pointer with 20 seconds to play in overtime gave Southern New Hampshire the lead for keeps, capping a monster comeback vs. Southern Connecticut in New Haven. All five starters reached double figures for the Penmen, who trailed 68-50 over four minutes into the second half before unleashing a 39-17 run to edge in front 89-85 after a Rodney Sanders jumper with 4:13 left. Michael Mallory – who exploded for all 33 of his points in the 25 minutes following the halftime break – strung together six straight to put the Owls back on top, 91-89 with 2:55 remaining. They were still in the lead at 94-91 following a steal and breakaway lay-up by Austin Carter (14 points, seven rebounds, five blocked shots) with 5.2 seconds to go when Jerome Harris (six points) threw a 60-foot inbounds pass to the right perimeter, where Sanders received it, spotted up and drained the tying triple with 1.7 seconds on the clock. Four ties and five lead changes highlighted an exciting overtime period with Mallory putting Southern ahead for the final time (104-103) with two free throws at the 46-second mark before Oliveira (career high-tying 13 points plus four assists) nailed the go-ahead trey. The Owls – who await their NCAA seeding – missed two shots in their final possession and Harris was sent to the line with 2.4 seconds showing, splitting his two attempts to give the hosts one last shot. Alas, the inbounds pass was tipped and intercepted at half-court, securing the stunning, come-from-behind victory. Sanders – who handed out five assists – was a model of efficiency with 29 points on spectacular 11-13 shooting, including a personal-best 7-8 showing from beyond the arc. Chris Walters cranked out 23 points (13-15 FT), 12 rebounds and five blocks for the defending regional champs, who also landed B.J. Cardarelli (18 points, six rebounds) and Devin Gilligan (12 points, four steals) in twin figures. Newly-crowned NE-10 Player of the Year Desmond Williams cashed in 21 of his 36 points (11-12 FT) in the first half, including the 1,000th of his two-year Owls career, while pulling down 11 rebounds. Stefon Williams (no relation) chipped in with 12 points and nine boards in a losing effort as Southern won the glass (48-41) and claimed all 12 fast-break points. Both sides committed 24 fouls and sank 25 free throws, but the Penmen – who will take on crosstown rival St. Anselm for the first time in NE-10 tourney play in Wednesday’s semifinals – were more effective from long distance (16-34 to 9-20) to aid their cause.
STONEHILL 103 ADELPHI 101 (OT)
On the other side of the Long Island Sound, Ryan Logan delivered a career-high 36 points, including the last five in overtime, to lead Stonehill past Adelphi in a Garden City barnburner. Trailing 101-97 after an Anthony Libroia triple with 1:33 to play in the extra session, Isaiah Bess (career-best 21 points, 6-8 FG, 4-5 from deep, four assists) lit the fuse with a foul shot before Logan added two more, then splashed a top-of-the-key three with 22 ticks left that put the Skyhawks on top for good as the Panthers had two long shots for the win rim out in their last possession. Logan snatched 11 rebounds for the winners, who also received a tremendous game from Pierce Cumpstone (career high-tying 27 points, nine rebounds, four assists, personal-best six blocks), who played all 45 minutes. Stonehill – which will travel to rival Bentley for Wednesday’s semifinals – trailed by a dozen before rallying to knot the count at 41-41 by the break. They carved out a seemingly comfortable 84-74 advantage following a lay-up by Carter Smith (11 points, four assists) with 3:42 remaining before Adelphi closed out regulation with a 15-5 flourish, drawing even on a Libroia lay-in with 15 seconds to go (he accounted for 10 of the 15). Logan and Libroia missed go-ahead shots in the waning seconds, necessitating the extra five minutes. Libroia spearheaded the Panthers attack with a career-best 42-point performance (15-29 FG, 7-12 from 3 in 44 minutes), including all 12 of his team’s points in the bonus round, while somehow finding the time to dish out eight assists as well. Manny Suarez was near-perfect in a supporting role with 23 points (10-12 FG, 3-3 from long range), 11 rebounds and four rejections, Michael Coffey added 17 points and Jack Laffey 11 off the bench in a losing cause. Both teams shot it well (SC 52%, AU 53%), especially from 3-point country (SC 15-27, AU 17-33, matching a league tourney record for makes). Both sides also valued the ball (SC 22/9 assist-turnover ratio, AU 16/11). Adelphi awaits word on a possible NCAA bid, though the team’s chances took a major hit with this heartbreaking setback.
ST. ANSELM 102 SAINT ROSE 90
The offenses were just as potent up in the Granite State as Tim Guers paced a balanced attack with a career-high 23 points (7-8 FG, 4-5 from deep) in St. Anselm’s victory over Saint Rose at Stoutenburgh Gym. The Hawks never trailed in this one, opening up four 20-point leads in the first half thanks to strong outings from Harrison Taggart (18 points, 4-7 from 3), Victor Joshua (17 points, seven assists), Mike McCahey (14 points, eight rebounds) and Cody Ball (13 points, 3-3 from distance in a reserve role). St. A’s – which hosts archrival Southern New Hampshire in Wednesday’s semifinal – saw its lead crest at 73-49 on a Taggart trifecta with 14:08 on the clock, and the Golden Knights came no closer than the 12-point final margin thereafter. Tyler Sayre had the hot hand for the visitors with 31 points (13-20 FG) and six boards as he was supported by Mical-Ryan Boyd (23 points) and Jamal Greenwood (16 points, 7-9 FG off the bench). Both teams shot the lights out from the floor (SAC 60%, CSR 57%) and boasted outstanding assist-turnover lines (SAC 23/9, CSR 17/7) but the Hawks won the game from beyond the arc, shooting 15-25 to their guests’ 5-13 showing.
BENTLEY 86 FRANKLIN PIERCE 71
The only NE-10 winner that did not hit the century mark was Bentley, which had little trouble ousting Franklin Pierce from postseason play and ascending the 20-win plateau for the first time in five seasons. Tyler McFarland totaled 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Falcons, who also saw Brandon Wheeler post a career-best 19 points on 8-11 shooting, and Keegan Hyland drop 17 while distributing five assists. A 16-5 burst over the last 5:50 of the first half transformed a 28-25 deficit into a 41-33 upper hand, then a 12-5 burst upon the restart, capped by a Wheeler lay-up, extended the lead to 53-38, and the margin bounced between 10 and 19 the balance of the ballgame. Mike McDevitt generated 18 points and Tyler Iacuone 14 in his final game for the Ravens, who were outscored in the paint, 48-30. Bentley – which hosts Stonehill on Wednesday – authored the superior assist-turnover numbers (18/6 to 9/11), furthering its cause.
SCIENCES 96 POST 90 (OT)
Overtime was a common theme throughout the region, and was ultimately required in Waterbury, where University of the Sciences staged a highly improbable comeback vs. Post in advancing to Friday’s CACC Tournament semifinals at Dominican. Wes Kerr produced six points during an 8-2, game-tying spurt over the final 49 seconds of regulation, including the tying lay-up with 2.1 seconds to play. The senior then came through with the go-ahead basket in the heart of a decisive 9-0 run in the extra session, flipping an 87-85 deficit into a 94-87 advantage that would never be seriously threatened. In a game that featured 17 ties and 18 lead changes, the Eagles had constructed a game-high lead of seven (78-71) after a 3-ball from Shay Agboola (10 points off the bench) with 2:10 left. A David Seymour triple with exactly one minute remaining gave the hosts an 81-75 lead before USciences struck. Two Kerr free throws got the ball rolling, followed by Sho Da-Silva’s second-chance basket with 22 seconds to go that tightened things up at 81-79. Agboola missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the visitors life, setting up Kerr’s tying bunny with eight seconds on the clock. He fouled Malcolm Amos (12 points, four assists) on the inbounds pass, however, resulting in the go-ahead freebies. Once again, though, Kerr rose to the occasion with the tying lay-up at the two-second mark, and his team’s momentum carried into the OT. Da-Silva registered 30 points (10-18 FG) and six rebounds despite playing in severe foul trouble all afternoon, while Kerr recorded 23 points and eight caroms. Flo Da-Silva (18 points, six rebounds) and Will Gregorits (13 points, 11 rebounds, four helpers) also made key impacts for the Devils, who supplemented their effort with twice as many foul shots (22-29 to 11-14) and a 19-9 edge in second-chance scoring. Both teams were potent from the field (US 55%, PU 52%) but Post outclassed is guests from long range (11-28 to 2-8). Tyler Desrosiers logged 25 points (11-19 FG) and four assists for the Eagles, who also landed Seymour (17 points, 7-11 FG, seven rebounds) and Tamas Okros (16 points) in twin figures. USciences will square off with crosstown foe Holy Family in Friday’s semifinals.
PHILADELPHIA 86 CONCORDIA 83
There were two buzzer-beaters on Saturday, including an uncommon 3-point jumper from T.J. Huggins that lifted Philadelphia past Concordia in the City of Brotherly Love and propelling the hosts into Friday’s semifinals vs. Bloomfield. CACC Player of the Year Peter Alexis tied his career high with 35 points (17-22 FG) while hailing in seven rebounds and turning aside five shots for the Rams, who also received a much-needed bench jolt from recent transfer Gemil Holbrook, who erupted for a personal-best 28 points on sizzling 8-11 shooting from behind the 3-point line (10-16 overall). The former Rider guard drove home 13 of his points during a 29-8 tear that overturned an early 20-6 deficit and afforded Philly U. a 35-28 lead with 4:44 to play. Another Holbrook bomb with 5:52 left gave the Rams a 78-68 lead but the Clippers commenced a 15-5 run to draw even at 83-83 following a put-back by conference Rookie of the Year Steven Milhaven (23 points, nine rebounds) with 15 ticks remaining. On the very next possession, Huggins – who notched 15 points and five assists – came off a screen and came through with the winning triple as his Rams shot 60% for the game (CC was 49%) and fared better at the stripe (11-13 to 5-13), offsetting shortfalls on the backboards (33-30) and in mistake points (19-10). Peter Aguilar closed out his career in style with 29 points (11-16 FG, 4-6 from 3) and six rebounds, while Andrew Peacock (14 points, 7-11 FG, seven assists) and A.J. Burton (10 points in his final game) also played well in defeat. Both teams were impactful from long distance (PU 8-21, CC 9-17).
BLOOMFIELD 79 CHESTNUT HILL 69
Bloomfield punched its ticket to the semis by ousting Chestnut Hill at the Deacon’s Den, placing all five starters in double digits while outshooting its guests from the field (48%-35%) and from afar (9-18 to 8-28). Claude Blue (10 rebounds, four assists) was high man for the Bears with 15 points, capping a 13-5 flurry with back-to-back lay-ups as they lengthened a 38-36 lead to 51-41 with 14:28 to go. The Griffins – who were fronted by Edward McWade’s career-best 23-point, eight-rebound performance – closed within 63-59 before another 13-5 spurt provided the necessary breathing room for the hosts at 76-64 following a Rakwan Kelly lay-up at the 2:07 mark. Safee Abdus-Sabur and Kelly (six rebounds, four assists) each netted 14 for Bloomfield, with Juan Brown (13 points, 3-5 from deep) and Nick Davidson (nine boards, four assists) also making their presences felt. Noel Hightower (12 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two blocks) and Antonio Toplyn, Jr. (10, 10 off the bench on perfect 3-3 FG and 4-4 FT) both knoced out double-doubles for the Griffins, who were the superior rebounders (48-36, including 25-10 on the offensive end), resulting in a 24-14 second-chance scoring boon. The Bears assembled a nifty 19/8 assist-turnover ratio (CHC was a decent 13/11).
HOLY FAMILY 76 DOMINICAN 60
After a slow start out of the gate, top-seeded Holy Family pulled away from Dominican at the Campus Center to reach the semifinal round. Marvin Crawford collected 17 points (11-14 FT), 10 rebounds and four steals to lead the Tigers, converting a lay-up to touch off a 19-2 charge over the final 7:21 of the opening period that transformed a 26-17 deficit into a 36-28 bulge at the break. The Chargers – who were buoyed by Gerrel Irvin’s 25 points (11-15 FG) and seven rebounds – were still within striking distance at 65-57 after a lay-up from Travis Cook (14 points, seven rebounds) with 5:09 to play when a Crawford bucket sparked an 11-3 game-closing spell over the last 4:36. Reggie Charles hit for 15 points, including the 1,000th of his career, while distributing four assists for Holy Family. Eric Fleming (14 points) and Derrick Stewart (10 points, 12 caroms) also played well for the victors, who made huge inroads at the foul line (28-40 to 8-19) and accounted for nine of the game’s 10 blocks, though neither team shot particularly well (HFU 40%, DC 41%), especially from downtown Philly (HFU 6-24, DC 4-15). The Tigers will get crosstown rival University of the Sciences in Friday’s semis at Dominican.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 86 LIU POST 84 (2 OT)
Virgil Fleming buried a last-second 3-pointer in double overtime, propelling District of Columbia to a scintillating albeit fight-marred victory over LIU Post in Brookville for its first-ever win at the Pratt Center, and first sweep in the season series. Joseph Nickerson garnered 24 points and eight rebounds to pace the Firebirds, who jumped out to a 21-9 lead before eventually falling behind 61-53 inside of the final seven minutes. Erin Senegal – who hit for 16 points (3-4 from distance) – ignited a 15-5 run with a long ball as UDC edged in front 68-66 with 2:41 left in regulation. Devon McMillan answered with a tying lay-up at the 1:23 mark and neither team could muster another point in the period, prompting bonus basketball. Nickerson provided the final tie of the first OT with a lay-up at the 54-second juncture, and the Firebirds fell behind 82-78 with just over two minutes remaining in the second OT, It was an 84-81 deficit after a Greg Dotson dunk with 55 seconds to go, but Nickerson sank a pair of foul shots with 41 seconds on the clock, and, after a stop, Fleming knocked down the winning shot, punctuating a nine-point, six-rebound afternoon. Reggie Sidbury (13 points) and Jayone Troutman (10 points, six rebounds) played well in supporting roles for UDC, which earned the #3 seed with the triumph and will play on its home floor as long as it keeps winning in the upcoming tourney, beginning with Mercy on Wednesday. Dotson amassed career bests of 30 points and 19 rebounds in a rare reserve role for the Pioneers, who also landed Akosa Maduegbunam (10, 7), Jared Hall (16 points) and McMillan (11 points, nine rebounds, five assists) in double figures. Both teams struggled from the floor (UDC 36%, LIUP 31%) and Post held advantages on the glass (60-50, including 25-13 on the offensive end), on the break (11-2) and in the assist-turnover department (15/11 to 10/14). LIU Post will host Bridgeport in the 4-5 game on Wednesday.
BRIDGEPORT 79 MERCY 75
Devon Elliott chalked up a career high-tying 32 points (10-17 FG, 3-6 from 3) along with six assists and four steals as Bridgeport shaded Mercy for the second time in six days, earning the #5 seed in the upcoming tournament and a trip to LIU Post Wednesday. Ernest Rouse chimed in with 16 points, while Jesse Jones submitted 11 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Purple Knights, who constructed a 60-44 cushion after an Elliott trifecta with 11:44 to go. They were still ahead 76-65 with 75 seconds left when the Mavericks sprung to life with a 9-1 surge, narrowing the gap to 77-74 after a Joshua Thompson steal and 3-point play with 20 seconds to play. Both teams split a pair at the stripe in their next abbreviated possessions before Antoine Brown nailed it down by virtue of a clinching free throw with seven seconds remaining. Jason Quijada sported 24 points (7-12 from long range) for Mercy, which also received double-doubles from Tyseem Lyles (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Gerald McClease (16, 14, along with six assists). Bridgeport was the more accurate shooting team (47%-35%) and took better care of the basketball (16/12 to 13/18) but was destroyed on the glass (55-29, including an eye-popping 30-6 on the offensive end), resulting in a 36-9 trouncing in second-chance scoring. Despite the loss, Mercy earned its first trip to the postseason since 2001 and will take on tournament host District of Columbia in the nation’s capital on Wednesday.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 102 DOWLING 76
The nation’s hottest team is St. Thomas Aquinas, which captured its 18th straight victory since Christmas by demolishing Dowling in Sparkill, eliminating its guests from the playoff picture. Chaz Watler led five scorers in double digits with 23 points (6-10 from deep) and four assists for the Spartans, followed by Justin Reyes (17 points, 7-9 FG, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots), reserve rookie Marcus Lawton (14 points, 5-7 FG, 4-6 from 3), Shaq McFarlan (13 points, 6-9 FG, four assists off the bench) and Jules de Courtenay (13 points). The ECC regular-season champion Spartans never trailed in this one, jumping in front for good thanks to a 9-2 flurry over the last 2:02 of the half to take a 48-41 lead into the locker room. It was still a 51-45 game less than two minutes after play resumed when a McFarlan jumper set in motion a 30-14 upswing that opened things up at 81-59 with 9:06 to play. The Golden Lions – who were led by Ali Mableton’s 20 points and four assists – never came closer than 19 points after that as the margin ballooned to 98-68 before all was said and done. Ryan Hickey (four assists) and Chris Millender (10 rebounds) each finished with 14 points for Dowling, which also placed Michael Guzzardi in twin figures with 13. STAC soundly outshot (59%-44%) and out-assisted (27-14) its guests, outscoring them 27-15 off turnovers and outclassing them from beyond the arc (15-28 to 6-20). They will sit out the first round.
QUEENS 71 DAEMEN 56
Queens finished its season with two wins under interim coach Kevin Vandiver, upending Daemen at Fitzgerald Gym on Sunday in the region’s final regular-season game. A 13-3 spree over the final 8:19 of the half, topped off by a Diego Maldonado buzzer-beating three, flipped an 18-17 deficit into a 30-21 lead, and the Knights were never seriously challenged over the final 20 minutes, as their advantage maxed out at 71-47 following a Maldonado slam before the Wildcats tallied the final nine points of the contest. Travis Whitfield (19 points, nine rebounds) and Maldonado (14 points) finished their careers strong for Queens, which also saw junior guard Tyree White rack up 19 points (9-12 FG) and 10 rebounds. Jaleo Wilkes (13 points) was the lone double-figure scorer for Daemen, which rested league scoring champ Torrence Dyck and shot a season-low 30% from the field (QC shot at a 42% clip). The Wildcats – who earned the second bye and direct pass to the tourney semifinals in Washington – were outscored in the paint (48-20), on second chances (23-9) and off turnovers (25-13) but stayed relatively close thanks to more trips to the line (19-27 to 7-13). The Knights finish in a three-way tie for sixth with Mercy and Dowling but lost all the tiebreakers after having gone 0-4 against the other two.
ROBERTS WESLEYAN 102 MOLLOY 76
Mike Stone saved his best for last, churning out a career-high 32 points (11-15 FG, 8-12 from deep) in his final game to lead five in double figures as Roberts Wesleyan avenged a home loss to Molloy, winning handily in Rockville Centre thanks to a 65-41 hammering in the second half. Quinn Carey supplied 18 points (6-11 from 3) and six rebounds off the bench for the Redhawks, who were red-hot from beyond the arc (19-40 compared to MC’s 7-33 showing) while outshooting their hosts overall (55%-36%). Leading 51-48 over six minutes into the final frame, Stone connected from downtown to launch a 19-4 run and establish a 70-52 bulge. The Lions – who were anchored by Charlie Marquardt’s 21 points – narrowed the gap to 83-71 after the junior’s triple with 6:01 to go, but a 17-3 Roberts jaunt turned the game into a rout at 100-74 with 1:19 on the clock. Tyrel Dixon compiled 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists in his collgiate swan song for the Redhawks, who also received 11 points apiece from Marcus Gooding and Malik Dare (13 rebounds, five assists). Marquardt gathered his 1,000th career point in the game, joining teammates Jaylen Morris (12 points off the bench) and Brandon Williams (10 points, five assists, four steals), who also turned the trick this season. Maurice Gatson and Chucks Obunse also called it a career with 10-point outings for Molloy, which got to the line more often (13-19 to 5-8) but was outrebounded (49-37) and out-assisted (23-12).