Four of the five games on the regional schedule Tuesday were NE10 affairs, and three of those were Southwest Division clashes. We kick off the recap with the last pristine team finally tasting defeat:
ADELPHI 67 PACE 53
For the second straight Tuesday, an undefeated East Region team entered the NABC Top 25 just hours before succumbing to a divisional rival at home. Last week, Dominican was upset by Felician, and this week it was Pace’s turn, falling into a huge hole vs. Adelphi at the Goldstein Center before seeing a late rally dissipate down the stretch, snapping a nine-game winning streak in the process. Jared Rivers accounted for 22 points and Ronnie Silva 20 with seven rebounds to lead the Panthers, who dominated the opening period, constructing a surreal 35-10 lead on the way to a 38-15 halftime advantage. The Setters – the freshly-minted #23 team in D2 – orchestrated a 29-12 charge in chopping the deficit down to 50-44 with 8:27 to play. It was still a two-possession game (52-46) approaching the six-minute mark when Adelphi launched a game-clinching 15-4 run, bookended by Silva free throws, in boosting the advantage to 67-50 with 1:02 left. Austin Beech tossed in 11 points for the Panthers, who were the more accurate shooters (42%-32%) and outscored their hosts 20-3 off turnovers, offsetting Pace’s 42-36 rebounding advantage. Brandon Jacobs (15 points, six rebounds, nine assists), Peyton Wejnert (12 points, nine boards) and Christian Adams (11, 7) were the most effective weapons for the Setters, who are a ranked team for the first time since February of 1999.
SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT 78 SAINT ROSE 65
Taurus Adams II continued his hot play, collecting 24 points (10-15 FG) and 11 rebounds, while fellow senior C.J. Seaforth totaled 18 points (7-11 FG, 4-6 from 3-point range) and four assists in leading Southern Connecticut past Saint Rose in Albany. Khalil Richard pitched in with 17 points and four steals for Southern, which jumped out to a 26-11 lead and stretched it to 61-43 just over eight minutes into the second half before the hosts made things interesting, touching off a 20-6 burst and shaving the deficit to 67-63 after a lay-up by Cartier Bowman (nine points) with 3:11 remaining. Adams then quelled the momentum by sinking a pair at the stripe to jump-start an 11-0 flurry that put the game away at 78-63, consigning the Golden Knights to a fifth straight setback. Sekou Sylla was high man for Saint Rose with 21 points and 12 rebounds. He was flanked by Tyler Washington (14 points off the bench, 8-8 FT) and Adam Anderson (13 points), but their team connected on only 32% of its shots, compared to the Owls' 47% clip. Both teams were terrific from the foul line (SCSU 11-12, CSR 25-28).
NEW HAVEN 65 AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL 54
The other New Haven team (the one which carries the city’s name) also won a divisional game on the road, bettering I-91 rival American International at Butova Gym, racing out to leads of 22-9 and 32-16 en route to a 34-22 halftime advantage. The margin ballooned to 47-29 just over six minutes into the final frame when the Yellow Jackets made their best run of the night, outscoring their guests 13-2 in narrowing the gap to 49-42 near the midway mark following consecutive 3-pointers by Shyheim Hicks (17 points, 5-8 from deep). They would get no closer, however, as Kessly Felizor (18 points, 7-9 FG, nine rebounds) converted a put-back to initiate a 7-0 spurt and widen the gap to 56-42, never allowing AIC to get any closer than the 11-point final thereafter. Elijah Bailey produced 26 points (5-10 from 3) for the Chargers, whose starting five scored all their points and four of those the only ones to pull down rebounds.
BENTLEY 75 SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE 56
The only Northeast Division battle took place further East in the Bay State as Bentley ran away from Southern New Hampshire in Waltham - the only home team to prevail on the evening. Jordan Mello-Klein paced a balanced attack with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Falcons, who led from pillar to post, using an 11-0 second-half surge in stretching a 47-42 lead into a 58-42 upper hand with 9:07 on the clock. Mello-Klein topped off the run with a traditional 3-point play and long-distance triple as the advantage bounced between 13 and 23 the balance of the ballgame. Chris Hudson (14 points, nine boards, four steals), Pete Blust (12 points, seven rebounds) and Brian Wright-Kinsey (10, 9) were solid in support for the victors, while Jacari Sanders (15 bench points), Shawn Montague (12) and Eamonn Joyce (11 points, 12 caroms) accounted for the bulk of the workload on the Penmen ledger.
NYACK 74 MERCY 68
The only interconference match-up took place at Victory Gym as Nyack held off cross-Hudson rival Mercy to secure its first winning record heading into the new calendar year since 2004-05. Thomas Nolan tallied eight of his 10 bench points over the final 1:12, including a dagger three and five foul shots over the last 23 seconds to secure the result. The Warriors – who also received noteworthy outings by reserves Junior Graham (12 points, 6-7 FG, eight rebounds) and Kennith Ford (10, 6) – never trailed in this one, bolting out to a 22-7 lead and forging a 35-22 cushion by the break. The Mavericks clawed their way back and equalized at 44-44 on a Bryan Griffin put-back with 11:12 to play. Nyack then initiated a 20-10 upswing – topped off by a Graham basket with 3:36 left, to open up a 64-54 advantage. However, the Mavs still had some fight left in them, rattling off eight straight to sidle within 64-62 after a Nakeem Hamilton follow with 1:37 remaining. That’s when Thomas took over with his team’s final eight points, beginning with the huge 3-ball at the 1:16 mark. Hamilton finished with 19 points for Mercy, which also saw Griffin amass 17 points, career-best 26 rebounds and three blocked shots in defeat. Both squads struggled from beyond the arc (NC 6-21, MC 6-19) and the Mavericks were particularly "foul" from the foul line (10-24), hampering their chances. Nyack boasted three-quarters of the game’s assists (15-5) while Mercy won the glass, 45-42.
There are four East teams ranked in this week’s NABC Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, with Daemen topping the list, climbing three spots to #8. As mentioned above, Pace enters at #23, St. Thomas Aquinas re-enters at #24 and Dominican drops four rungs to #25. St. Anselm – last week’s #20 – is receiving votes along with Jefferson, while Bentley is no longer doing so. Nova Southeastern (FL) usurps Northwest Missouri State as the new #1 team in the land.