Click Here For NEC Tournament Headquarters
Click Here For NEC Tournament Bracket
Top-seeded Central Connecticut State captured the 2007 NEC Men's Basketball Championship for the third time in school history on Wednesday, stopping #2 seed Sacred Heart, 74-70, before a frenzied sellout crowd at Detrick Gymnasium in New Britain, CT. The Blue Devils, who trailed by ten points with 10:37 to play, responded with a 10-0 spurt over the next 1:53 to tie things up at 56-56. Tournament Most Valuable Player Javier Mojica nailed a three-pointer with 1:36 left on the clock to give CCSU a 70-68 lead, before the Blue Devils put the game out of reach on Jemino Sobers' baseline jumper with the shot clock expiring and 47 seconds remaining in the contest. Mojica tallied a game-high 25 points and pulled down ten boards to lead the 22-11 Blue Devils, who will find out their NCAA opponent this Sunday. The Pioneers, who finished the year 18-14, were led by Joey Henley's 22 points and seven rebounds.
NEC Men's Basketball Tournament
Championship Game Recap/Boxscore
#1 Central Connecticut State 74, #2 Sacred Heart 70
Click Here For Boxscore
New Britain, CT -- Central Connecticut (22-11) defeated Sacred Heart (18-14), 74-70, to earn the Northeast Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Blue Devil senior Javier Mojica, the NEC tournament MVP, led all players with 25 points. He and classmate Jemino Sobers each registered double-doubles for CCSU. Mojica had 10 boards to go with his game-high scoring effort, while Sobers added 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Junior Joey Henley had 22 points and seven rebounds to lead the Pioneers. Senior Jarrid Frye added 16 points in the losing effort. For the Blue Devils, this marks the third NEC title in school history.
"We played with as much heart, as much toughness - mentally, physically emotionally - as any team that I've been around," Central Connecticut head coach Howie Dickenman said. "I doubt I'll ever have a team that plays this tough and plays with this attitude. We played with a chip on
our shoulder, played hard and never stopped playing. They're winners. These guys are winners."
After a first half featuring seven ties and 12 lead changes, with the last coming with less than 10 seconds on the clock, Sacred Heart jumped out to a nine-point lead, 42-33, with an 8-0 run to start the final 20 minute session.
Tristan Blackwood scored eight of the first nine Blue Devil second half points to cut that lead to four, but the Pioneers would forge forward and gain their largest advantage, 56-46, with 10:37 to play in the game.
Central again countered.
Back-to-back three-pointers from freshman Joe Seymore and Blackwood, a junior, sparked a 10-0 Blue Devil run that tied the game. However, Central would not go ahead until there was under three minutes showing on the clock, and the Pioneers quickly retook the lead at 68-67 with
Mojica, who was also the conference's regular season most valuable player, put Central Connecticut ahead for good at the 1:36 mark with his fourth three-pointer of the game, but it was a Sobers' jumper with the shot clock nearly expired that gave the Blue Devils a four-point cushion
with under one minute to play.
The Pioneers, who led 34-33 at halftime, were paced by 13 first half points from Frye. Mojica matched Frye's effort, while senior Obie Nwadike added six points and seven rebounds.
Both teams started off slowly from the field but finished the opening half with shooting percentages above 40. Central controlled the glass, holding a 21-14 rebounding advantage.
Overall, the Blue Devils finished 44.1 percent from the floor and 47.6 percent from beyond the arc, outshooting the Pioneers, who hit 43.5 percent of their total efforts and just 28.6 percent of their tries from three-point range. Central also outrebounded Sacred Heart, 44-30.
In addition to the efforts of Mojica and Sobers, Blackwood totaled 21 points and five assists to lead Central Connecticut. The Toronto, Ontario native connected on 6-of-11 shots, including 5-of-7 three-pointers. Nwadike, meanwhile, totaled nine points and 10 rebounds.
At the other end, freshman Ryan Litke contributed to the efforts of Henley and Frye with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from three-point distance.
"It's a great feeling to feel this bad," Sacred Heart head coach Dave Bike said following the game." "These guys (seniors Henley and Hobson) got us to a place we've never been."
In addition to Mojica, the all-tournament team featured Blackwood, Nwadike, Henley and Frye. Mojica averaged 15 points, nine rebounds, two steals and nearly four assists in three tournament games.
Central Connecticut State will now have to wait until Sunday to find out its NCAA opponent.