The top two seeds went down on their home floors on a wild Semifinal Saturday of hoops at the 2013 NEC Men's Basketball Tournament. #3 seed LIU Brooklyn raced out to a 20-point lead at the break, and led by as much as 24 in the second half, before holding off hard-charging #2 seed Wagner and post a 94-82 victory at the Spiro Center in Staten Island, NY. The Blackbirds, who were led by C.J. Garner's 23 points, now have the opportunity to make history at home on Tuesday, when they go for their third straight NEC title. Their opponent will be #5 seed Mount St. Mary's, which won its ninth straight and advanced to its first championship game since 2009 with a 69-60 victory over top-seeded Robert Morris in Moon Township, PA. The Mount's Rashad Whack led all scorers with 26 points, including 4-5 from three-point range.
This marked only the third time in NEC history ('96, '08) that the two lower seeded teams won on the road to advance to title game and the fourth time that the number one and two seeds went down in the semifinals ('96, '99 and '08). While the Blackbirds hope to be the first ever to three-peat, the Mount could become the first ever to capture the NEC title by claiming three straight wins on the road.
#3 LIU Brooklyn 94, #2 Wagner 82
Staten Island, NY --
The #3-seeded LIU Brooklyn men's basketball team used a 23-3 run over a 7:25 span to jump out to a 21-point, first-half lead, then shot 72.7 percent in the second half en route to a 94-82 win over #2 Wagner in a Northeast Conference Tournament semifinal matchup on Saturday afternoon in Staten Island, NY.
With the win, the Blackbirds will now attempt to become the first NEC team to win three straight championships when they host #5 seed Mount St. Mary's at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center on Tuesday, Mar. 12 at 7:00 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Senior C.J. Garner continued his red-hot play, scoring 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting to lead six players in double figures. Classmate Jamal Olasewere registered his 11th double-double of the year with 12 points and 12 rebounds, and became LIU's all-time leading scorer with 1,836 points.
Wagner senior forward Jonathon Wlliams led the Seahawks with 23 points, while sophomore guard Marcus Burton chipped in with 18 on the afternoon.
Holding a tenuous one-point lead at the 13:16 mark of the first half, LIU Brooklyn caught fire and hit eight of its next nine shots from the floor. Senior Booker Hucks sparked the spurt with back-to-back three-pointers, and sophomore Gerrell Martin finished it with a one-handed slam off a dish from junior Jason Brickman to give the Blackbirds a 32-11 at the 5:48 mark.
Over the nearly eight-minute run, LIU put the clamps on a Wagner offense that averaged 90.0 points and shot 57.1 percent against the Blackbirds in their two meetings during the regular season. The Seahawks missed all six of their field-goal attempts and turned the ball over five times as LIU held a 21-point lead.
A pair of free throws from Brickman capped the scoring in the first half as the Blackbirds entered the locker room with a commanding 49-29 lead. LIU shot 59.3 percent from the floor and held Wagner to just 39.1 percent, including a 2-for-8 performance from three-point range.
The Blackbirds became even more efficient shooting the basketball after halftime, but struggled taking care of the ball. LIU turned the ball over eight times in the first eight minutes of the second half. Despite those miscues, the red-hot shooting kept the margin above 20 for the majority.
Garner led the way, scoring six points while Olasewere's spinning layup gave the Blackbirds a 65-44 lead with 12:12 left in the stanza. The hoop gave the NEC Player of the Year eight points for the game, and also moved Olasewere past Joe Griffin (1991-95) for the top spot on LIU's all-time scoring list.
A layup from Wagner's Mario Moody cut the lead to under 20, but sophomore Troy Joseph knocked down a three and senior Kenny Onyechi scored as he was fouled to give the Blackbirds their largest lead at 70-46.
The Seahawks did not go down without a fight, forcing 17 second-half turnovers and doing all they could to stay in it. But every time Wagner got close, LIU had an answer.
A three-point play from Jonathon Williams pulled the Seahawks to within 15, but a fast-break layup by freshman E.J. Reed and another by Garner re-upped the margin to 81-62. A layup from Marcus Burton brought Wagner to within 11 but LIU once again built the margin back to 15 with under two minutes to play and cruised from there.
#5 Mount St. Mary's 69, #1 Robert Morris 60
Moon Township, PA --
#5-seeded Mount St. Mary's upset top-seeded Robert Morris, 69-60, in the Northeast Conference Tournament semifinals on Saturday afternoon in Moon Township, PA. Junior Rashad Whack poured in 26 points to pace the Mount, who advances to the NEC Championship game on Tuesday night at #3 LIU Brooklyn.
Leading 35-27 early in the second half, Mount point guard Julian Norfleet went down with an ankle injury with 15:22 remaining. However, Mount St. Mary's responded with a 12-2 run to take control of the game. Sam Prescott started the spurt with a three-pointer, and Whack followed with a difficult three-pointer from the right wing to stretch the margin to 42-29.
Prescott then converted an and-one on the fast break, and Whack added a breakaway lay-up after a steal to push the advantage to 47-29 with 9:05 left in the game.
The Colonials (23-10) cut the Mount advantage to 49-36, but Whack nailed a three-pointer and Kelvin Parker slammed home an alley-oop on a feed from Prescott to make it 54-36 with 5:49 remaining. A Parker fade-away jumper stretched the advantage to 20 points before Robert Morris rallied.
Robert Morris used a 15-to-2 run to cut the Mount lead to 58-51 with 2:56 left. Anthony Myers-Pate and Lucky Jones had back-to-back three-pointers and Mike McFadden a dunk to cap the run. The Mount missed on the next possession, but forced a turnover and Whack was fouled with 2:00 left. The junior guard calmly sank both free throws to push the lead back to nine.
Robert Morris whittled the lead to 62-56 on a Lucky Jones bucket with 1:03 left, but the Mount held off the Colonials by going 7-of-10 at the charity stripe in the final minute to earn the win.
Whack finished the game 7-of-10 from the field, 4-of-5 from three-point range, and 8-of-11 at the foul line for his game-high 26 points. He is averaging 22.5 points over the first two games of the NEC Tournament. Prescott chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Norfleet added eight points and two assists.
Myers-Pate led Robert Morris with 15 points while Lucky Jones added 10 in the loss. The Mount held First Team All-NEC guard Velton Jones to nine points on 2-of-17 shooting in the game.
Mount St. Mary's shot 44.7 percent in the game, and was 8-of-17 (.471) from three-point range. Robert Morris shot just 34.4 percent overall, and was 5-of-19 (.263) from three-point range.
In the opening half, the Mount outscored Robert Morris, 17-8, over the final 11:46 of the first half to take a 29-23 advantage at the break. Trailing 15-12, Norfleet started the streak with a three-pointer to even the score. Each team made a pair of free throws, before a 6-0 Mount run made the score 23-17. Prescott started the mini-run with a nice drive, while Kristijan Krajina added back-to-back buckets.
A Prescott three-pointer from the top of the key gave the Mount a 26-19 lead and a Norfleet triple from the left corner made it 29-21 with 2:03 left in the half. Robert Morris guard Karvel Anderson hit a pair of free throws to cut the Mount lead to 29-23.
Mount St. Mary's held Robert Morris to 34.6 percent shooting in the first half, including just 1-of-7 (.143) from three-point range. The Mount was 10-of-24 (.417) from the field in the first half, including 5-of-8 (.625) from three-point range. Norfleet and Whack led the Mountaineers with eight points each in the half.
The Mount will head back on the road to take on two-time defending champion LIU Brooklyn in the NEC Championship game on Tuesday, March 12, at 7:00 p.m. The game will air live on ESPN2.
: The Mount is now 4-4 all-time in the NEC Tournament against Robert Morris…This was the sixth meeting between the teams in the NEC Tournament over the past eight years between the teams…The Mount is 5-6 all-time in the NEC semifinal round….The Mount's last appearance in the NEC title game was a 48-46 loss to Robert Morris in 2010.
2013 Northeast Conference Men's Basketball Tournament
Presented by Ruby Tuesday
Follow the tournament live on Twitter @NECBBT
All games played at home of higher seed
Teams reseeded following quarterfinals
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