All three conferences were in action on Wednesday, and there were plenty of crucial games and personal milestones in the mix. We’ll survey the leagues in order this time around, beginning with the Northeast-10, which saw two of its top teams fall on the road:


For the second straight game, Matt Banton’s dazzling 3-point shooting display brought Franklin Pierce back from a deep second-half deficit… this time in a stunning victory over Granite State rival St. Anselm in Rindge. The backup junior guard produced all of his 24 points after intermission, including 6-8 from long range, after the Ravens had fallen into a 43-26 hole early in the second stanza. Four of those triples came during a key 14-4 run that slashed a 53-37 shortfall to a workable 57-51 with 10:40 to play. Another 14-4 run, punctuated by a Donte Gittens lay-up with 3:57 left, wiped out a 66-57 deficiency and put the hosts on top, 71-70. That would be the first of five straight lead changes that culminated in the junior’s running banker with 53 seconds remaining. He added two free throws 30 seconds later to push the lead to 77-74, but Victor Joshua (15 points, seven rebounds, four assists) countered with a driving lay-up to bring the #7 Hawks within a single point. Banton – who performed similar magic at Le Moyne on Saturday, helping his team overcome a 16-point second-half deficit in that one – capped the scoring with two freebies at the 7.6 mark as Joshua’s 3-pointer for the tie rimmed out at the buzzer. Mike McDevitt had kept Pierce afloat during a rough first half, scoring 17 of his 21 points (and 17 of his team’s 24) in the period while adding eight rebounds. Gittens posted 13 of his 15 in the final frame and Tyler Iacuone contributed 10 points and eight boards as the Ravens led for all of 84 seconds on the night in securing their fourth straight win and solidifying their playoff positioning. Harrison Taggart paced St. A’s with 18 points (4-8 from deep), while Tim Guers (16 points, 5-5 FG, 2-2 from 3) and Chris Braley (all 11 points in the second half, nine rebounds) also played well in a losing effort. The Hawks shot a tad better (44%-41%) but rebounding was a key factor for the winners (45-35), leading to an 18-6 boon in second-chance scoring.


Things are getting a lot tighter in the NE-10’s rugged Northeast Division as Stonehill blasted Bentley at Merkert Gym for a season sweep and fifth straight win in the series, pulling within a game of their Commonwealth rivals and St. Anselm atop the standings. Pierce Cumpstone busted out for a career-high 27 points (11-15 FG, 5-7 from downtown North Easton) and 15 rebounds in leading five in double figures as the Skyhawks used a 10-2 spurt early in the second half to expand a 44-37 lead to 54-39, never allowing their guests to come within single digits thereafter as the margin mushroomed to 80-57 following a Cumpstone three with 8:01 to go. Ryan Logan (18 points, five assists), Adam Bramanti (17 points, 6-9 FG, 5-8 from long distance), Joel Berroa (personal-best 14 points in 15 bench minutes on a perfect 6-6 from the floor and 2-2 from 3) and Carter Smith (11 points, five assists) pulled their weight for the hosts, who shot 56% from the field, including a sensational 16-29 from beyond the arc (BU was 47% and 8-26 by comparison). Tyler McFarland compiled 25 points and eight rebounds for the Falcons, who also saw Keegan Hyland (19 points) and reserve rookie Ryan Richmond (11) reach double digits in defeat. Both teams distributed the ball well (SC 18/7 assist-turnover ratio, BU 15/10) and combined to commit a mere 17 fouls (only SIX for BU). Bentley fared better at the stripe as a result (11-15 compared to SC’s 2-2).


Matt Bonds put on a show just up the road in North Andover, amassing a career-high 31 points (12-21 FG) and 19 rebounds in 43 minutes, even adding his first-ever trifecta, as St. Michael’s avenged a blowout home loss to Merrimack and dealt a damaging blow to its hosts’ playoff hopes. The nation’s second-leading rebounder and elite double-double specialist was a beast on the offensive glass, leading the Purple Knights to a 55-36 rebounding mandate and massive 29-5 shellacking on second-chance points. After trailing 40-34 early in the second stanza, the P-Knights reeled off 13 unanswered points, culminating in a Bonds put-back with 12:51 to play that nudged his team ahead 47-40. In total, 23 of St. Mike’s 37 points in the period came exclusively on second chances, yet the Warriors used a 22-11 doubling in mistake points and 9-0 advantage on the break to counter as the lead changed hands a dizzying eight times over the final 4:46 of regulation until JT Strickland’s free throw with 7.1 seconds on the clock knotted the count at 64-64, necessitating the bonus round. A 3-ball by Gelvis Solano (13 points, six caroms) opened the OT scoring but Merrimack would go cold from that point forward as the Purple Knights used a 10-4 flourish to close out the contest, with Bonds providing the tying driving lay-up and go-ahead tip-in within a 31-second span, the latter representing the 18th and final lead swap of the night. The Warriors – who handed out twice as many assists (16-8) and forced nearly twice as many turnovers (23-12) – had plenty of chances down the stretch but misfired on four 3-point attempts and two foul shots before Greg Grippo (13 points, six rebounds) sank a pair at the line to with 22.7 seconds left to make it a two-possession game at 73-69. A Strickland lay-up halved the deficit six seconds later and Winston Jones II had a chance to ice it at the stripe with 10 seconds remaining. After splitting the pair, the door was open for Merrimack, but Troy Hamel (26 points) couldn’t connect on a tying trey. Morrell Gaskins chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds off the bench for St. Michael’s, while Strickland chalked up 15 points and nine assists for the hosts, who hurt themselves at the line (10-19), shot 11-39 from 3-point territory (14-32 inside of it) and are now three games off the playoff pace with six to play.


Division 2 history was made in Albany, where Saint Rose rallied in the second half to shade Thruway rival Le Moyne on a night the two Empire State clubs combined to shoot a perfect 34-34 at the foul line, shattering the NCAA record. The Golden Knights – who accounted for 27 of those makes – took control midway through the second half with a 16-0 run as the Dolphins – who led 46-38 over three minutes into the final period – were held scoreless for 7:52. Mical-Ryan Boyd registered a career-high 23 points (9-14 FG, 3-4 from deep) and Tyler Sayre (20 points, half of which came from the line) led the Knights’ attack as they built a 65-52 lead with 4:29 to go and held off a late surge that saw the Fins pull within six points on three occasions. Free throws saved the day, however, as the hosts converted 12 straight over the last 2:08 to keep their rivals at arm’s length. Backup freshman guard Shane Herrity accounted for eight of his 11 points during the final 1:21, while Damon Coleman also sported 11 for Saint Rose, which moved within a game of second place in the Southwest Division. Qwadere Lovell (14 points, five assists) was the lone double-figure scorer for Le Moyne. Which fell for a ninth time in 10 games since the calendar flipped, and slipped a game out of the playoff picture. Both teams also shot well from the floor (CSR 53%, LC 52%), with the Dolphins making more threes (7-25 to 4-8).


The previous D2 record for combined free-throw percentage (minimum 30 attempts) actually occurred in another NE-10 game as Bentley and Hartford collaborated on a 32-33 (97%) performance on February 22, 1983. Saint Rose came very close to eclipsing the individual team record, set by onetime NYCAC rival Dowling, which went 31-31 against Southampton on February 6, 1985.


Speaking of former NYCAC teams, fourth-place Pace overcame an early 11-point deficit and upended second-place Adelphi in Manhattan, thanks largely to Bryan Rivers’ career-best 28-point (10-14 FG), six-rebound performance. Shelton Mickell continued his recent scoring prowess with 19 points while adding eight rebounds and four assists as the Setters used a 13-0 spree to seize the reins, flipping a 44-41 deficit into a 54-44 advantage with 13:34 to play. Rivers baskets bookended the run, and his lay-up at the 7:24 mark pushed the lead to 67-55 before the Panthers used a 12-5 flurry to trim the deficit to 72-67 following a Tavon Ginyard triple with 3:04 on the clock. But Mickell sank two free throws 22 seconds later to spark a 6-0 spurt that sent the crowd home happy. Ryan Peterson turned in a 15-point, nine-rebound performance for the victors, who outshot Adelphi (55%-40%) and gathered all 10 fast-break points, offsetting the Panthers’ 3-point proclivity (11-35 to 6-13) and more efficient foul shooting (13-14 to 18-29). Ginyard was high man for Adelphi with a personal-best 23 points (5-10 from Wall Street) and five assists. He was joined in twin figures by Michael Coffey (15 points), Anthony Libroia (12) and Jack Laffey (12 off the bench). This was the first game at the Civic Center Gym since Nyack edged Pace 76-75 on December 14, 2010.


A 12-4 game-closing surge carried American International past New Haven at Charger Gym and into a playoff position. A tight first half gave way to a streaky second as the Chargers' 17-3 spell transformed a 41-32 deficit into a 49-44 lead with 5:13 left. Samir McDaniels (seven rebounds) cashed in half of his 10 points, including the go-ahead trey, during the run, but the Yellow Jackets battled back over the final 5:02, edging back in front on a pair of Nolan Woodward foul shots with 1:06 remaining and closing out the scoring on two Jamal Moody tosses at the 10-second juncture. A potential tying 3-pointer by Tommy Hunt (three points) was well short at the horn, consigning the hosts to a fourth consecutive setback and dropping them two games off the playoff pace. Cameron Dobbs (16 points, 4-7 from deep), Moody (14), Oscar Assie (four points, 15 rebounds) and Woodward (6, 7) were key contributors for AIC, which shot at a higher clip from beyond the arc (7-14 to 8-26) and won the glass, 48-33. Jemal Mosley led a balanced New Haven attack with 12 points and four assists, followed by Michael Bourke (10 points, six boards) and Josh Guddemi (10 points). Both teams exhibited icy shooting touches (AIC 33%, UNH 31%).


Rodney Sanders totaled 23 points (4-7 from 3) and Chris Walters collected 21 points (10-11 FT) and 13 rebounds in leading Southern New Hampshire past Assumption in Worcester for its fourth victory in a row. Devon Gilligan (11 points, seven rebounds) and B.J. Cardarelli (10 points, 3-6 from afar) also reached double figures for the Penmen, who led most of the way, and by as much as 54-40 after a Sanders three early in the second half before the Greyhounds chipped away, closing within 71-66 after two free throws from Declan Soukup (12 points, four assists) with 4:31 to go. They would get no closer, however, as SNHU launched an 11-2 upswing to put the game out of reach at 82-68 within the final minute, sending Assumption to a sixth straight defeat as a result. Julian Aiken rang up 17 points (4-4 from long range) off the bench for the Hounds, who also landed Kamali Bey (15 points, seven rebounds) and Tre Owens (11 points) in double digits. The Penmen were near-perfect at the foul line (24-25 to ACs 13-22) and dominated the backboards, 38-24, leading to a 14-2 advantage in second-chance scoring.


Just two games comprised the East Coast Conference schedule on Wednesday, but the best finish of the night – in ANY league – came at the Westchester County Center as Tyseem Lyles’ coast-to-coast lay-up as time expired lifted Mercy past LIU  Post and sparked a frenzied celebration. The Mavericks – who tied idle Dowling for the sixth and final playoff berth with their second buzzer-beating win – beat the Pioneers for only the eighth time in 74 lifetime meetings and improved to 8-9 for the first time in 23 seasons. Things didn’t start out well for the home team, which fell behind 22-12 and trailed for most of the night. A 10-0 rush at the start of the second half – topped off by a 3-pointer from Devon McMillan (12 points, eight rebounds) – put Post on top 40-31 but Mercy responded with a 20-8 burst to reclaim the upper hand, 51-48 following a foul shot from Will Robinson (17 points, nine rebounds) with 9:17 on the clock. Another toss from the senior big man with 1:42 to play pushed the advantage to 61-55 but the Pioneers fought back with a 10-4 spurt, tying it up at 65-65 with five seconds left on a pair of freebies by Jared Hall – giving him 13 of 14 for the game, representing half of his 26-point output. The final seconds belonged Lyles, who finished with 13 points, helping send the Pioneers to their fourth straight defeat and into fifth place in the ECC pecking order. Jason Quijada came off the bench to top the Mavericks’ score sheet with 20 points (7-10 FG, 4-7 from distance), while K.J. Rose offered five points and 13 rebounds, helping his team to a 20-7 advantage in second-chance scoring.


There would be no second straight upset for New York Institute of Technology, which ran into a buzzsaw in Sparkill, falling to red-hot conference leader St. Thomas Aquinas four days after upsetting second-place Bridgeport. After Khalif Chaplin opened the contest with a 3-pointer, the Spartans rattled off 18 unanswered points, fueled by a suffocating full-court press that induced 11 turnovers in the next 15 possessions. STAC extended its lead to 40-19 late in the half, then maxed out at 55-28 early in the second before the Bears made a late push, sidling within 73-60 after a put-back by Jerrel Green (16 points, 7-8 FG, 18 rebounds) with 2:43 remaining. That’s as close as they would get, though, as Aaron Cust (11 points off the bench) converted a lay-up just eight seconds later, triggering a 12-3, game-closing flourish that carried Aquinas to its region-best 11th straight win. Justin Reyes stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points (6-8 FG), seven rebounds and seven steals, while Jules deCourtenay (11 points on 5-7 shooting) and Jonathan Lawton (10 points, four assists in a reserve role) also made their presences felt for the Spartans, who were bettered on the boards (46-33) but more than made up for that by forcing a regional season-high 31 turnovers and boasting a ridiculous 41-8 bulge in mistake points. STAC generated 15 of the game’s 18 steals, dominated the paint (46-26), dished out three times as many assists (21-7) and cruised on the break (16-6). Chaplin stayed hot for NYIT, garnering 24 points and shooting 11-12 from the line while his teammates were a disastrous 11-26. Keiran Hamilton reached a personal best with 12 points off the bench in a losing cause.


Not much changed in the CACC standings, but the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in the South took a turn in Chestnut Hill’s favor after the Griffins survived a tug-of-war with Georgian Court in Lakewood. In a game that saw 11 lead changes and nothing more than a three-point spread over the last 11:19, it was two foul shots from Demetrius Isaac (11 points) with 15 ticks to go that proved the difference maker, as well as Antonio Toplyn, Jr.’s block of a potential winning basket by Michael Pierre (10 bench points) with three seconds on the clock. Edward McWade recorded 15 of his 19 points in the first half and pulled down six rebounds to pace the Griffins, who also received a career-high 13 off the bench from Ryan Griffin. Juwaun Carter tallied 18 points, five assists and four steals to lead the Lions, who also received a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double from Nikola Vujovic and 12 points off the pine from Hamilton Capellan on 4-5 shooting from long range. The Griffs were outshot (46%-39%) and out-assisted (17-10) but made more treys (10-27 to 7-15) and foul shots (13-17 to 7-13) to hang on, moving a full game up on Goldey-Beacom.


Reggie Charles’ tying lay-up with 6:07 to play touched off a 22-9, game-closing run as Holy Family survived a scare from Goldey-Beacom at the Joseph West Jones Center, increasing its South Division lead to a full game over idle Philadelphia. The Tigers trailed 40-34 just past the midway mark and 44-42 prior to the big finish as they won their fifth straight and the Lightning fell for the fifth time in a row, dropping a game out of playoff position. Eric Fleming attained 13 of his 16 points in the second half to lead Holy Family, which also landed Charles (13 points) and Marvin Crawford (12 points, seven rebounds) in double figures. Parris Ridgeway-Higgs churned out 14 points (4-7 from 3) in a reserve role for Goldey, which also saw Algeron Torrence step up with 12 points and 11 rebounds in a spot start up front. Shooting (HFU 33%, GBC 34%) and rebounding (42-41 GBC) were virtual draws, but the Tigers’ 11-3 edge in second-chance scoring and 22-15 advantage in turnovers helped push them over the finish line.


Across town at the Complex, it was a tale of two halves as University of the Sciences withstood a barrage of first-half 3-pointers and pulled away from Wilmington to snap a four-game slide and solidify third place in the South. The Wildcats shot 9-15 from beyind the arc in the first frame and took a 45-38 lead into the locker room. They expanded it to 50-40 shortly after play resumed but the well ran dry pretty quickly after that as the Cats went 0-11 from downtown Newark and the Devils orchestrated a 21-3 power run to grab control, 61-53, after a pair of Sho Da-Silva foul shots with 9:44 left. Wilmington stayed close thanks to its all-star junior guard Tyaire Ponzo-Meek (23 points in 40 minutes on 10-18 shooting), whose jumper with 2:28 remaining brought the hosts within 75-67 before USciences answered with eight in a row – all at the line – to close it out. Will Gregorits exploded for 29 points, including 11 during the 21-3 run, converting 12 of his 14 shot attempts and snaring 12 rebounds in a rare bench outing. Da-Silva provided 25 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for the Devils, who also landed Wes Kerr in twin figures with 18 points and six boards. David Hartman notched all 12 of his points on 4-5 shooting from distance in the first half for Wilmington, which also benefited from Brian Adkins’ 10-point outing. Sciences was the superior shooting team (51%-44%) despite only making 1-9 from beyond the arc. The Devils also feasted at the foul line (26-36 to WU’s 4-8), in the paint (40-20) and on the glass (44-30, including 30-14 after intermission).


The top two clubs in the jumbled-up North prevailed at home. In North Jersey, Nick Davidson led five in double digits with 24 points and six rebounds as first-place Bloomfield knocked off Concordia. Claude Blue dropped 20 (8-10 FG) for the Bears, who trailed only once (17-16) before running away in the second half. Davidson’s traditional 3-point play just over six minutes into the second period set in motion a 29-10 jaunt that amplified a modest 55-50 lead to 84-60 with 4:57 to go, rendering an 18-5 game-ending run by the visitors a mere footnote. Rakwan Kelly (11 points, 10 rebounds), Juan Brown (10 points, four assists) and Safee Abdus-Sabur (10 points, six boards off the bench) provided ample support for the winners, who prevailed despite being slightly outshot from the field (49%-47%). A 22-14 turnover disparity damaged the chances for the Clippers, who fell into a third-place tie with idle Dominican as a result. Peter Aguilar delivered a career-high 32 points (12-17 FG, 4-7 from deep) in a losing effort, while Justyn Gardner also achieved personal bests of 21 points (9-11 FG) and 12 caroms in a reserve outing.


Post remains hot on Bloomfield’s heels, a half-game out of the top spot after outlasting Felician at the DRubner Center in a highly competitive contest that spawned eight ties and 13 lead changes over the first 27:06. Trailing 40-38 early in the second half, David Seymour banged a trifecta to ignite a 30-13 uprising as the Eagles took flight with a 68-53 lead and 4:03 on the clock. Seymour – who drove home 21 points on 6-9 long-range shooting – capped the run with a lay-up as the hosts won the glass (40-27) and committed just FIVE fouls all night (FU was whistled for 15). Tamas Okros (nine rebounds, 4-6 from 3) and Malcolm Amos (seven boards and assists) each netted 17 for the Eagles, while Jamal Reid (22 points, 3-5 from distance, four assists), Jeyvi Miavivilulu (14 points, 2-2 from deep) and Marko Kozul (12 points) were the key figures for the Golden Falcons, who are now three games out of the playoff picture.


Dawan Lighty’s jumper with 2:05 left carried Caldwell to a comeback vs. Nyack at the Newman Center to remain two games out of the last postseason berth in the North. The Cougars – who led 32-23 at halftime and 42-35 over six minutes into the second stanza – saw the Warriors embark on a 16-4 charge, surging in front 51-46 after two free throws by Imran Ritchie (career-high 26 points, eight rebounds) near the eight-minute mark. Billy McDonald – who had the hot hand for the home team with 18 points on 8-11 shooting – responded with a dunk and go-ahead lay-up before Nyack forced ties at 57 and 59. Things got dicey for the hosts, though, in the closing moments as two misses from the line with 10 seconds remaining gave the Warriors a chance, but a missed triple and second-chance turnover proved costly before Tyler Drews closed out the scoring with his only point at the two-second mark as the visitors were unable to get a decent shot off as time ran out. Lighty hit for 15 points, Salvatore Vitello 12 (along with five assists and four steals) and Brian Kenny 10 (4-4 FG, six rebounds) for Caldwell, which was the far more accurate shooting team (55%-38%) but was outworked on the boards (36-27, including 14-3 on the offensive end, leading to a 16-6 second-chance scoring advantage). The Cougars also survived 18-31 foul shooting (NC was a far more efficient 14-18). Robert Tyler supplied 18 points for Nyack, which slips a half-game behind the fourth and final playoff berth.