Sunday, March 3, 2013

STOP #9: Multipurpose Activity Center, West Long Branch, NJ
Monday, March 4, 2013 – 7pm

Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (14-14, 10-7) at Monmouth Hawks (14-14, 11-6)

MU Game Notes

MSM Game Notes 

Live Stats
Since NEC women’s basketball went back to a “higher seed hosts” postseason format two years ago, the numbers strongly show that being in the top four of the standings and hosting tournament games is crucial to postseason success. Over the last two seasons, home teams have won seven out of the eight quarterfinal playoff matchups, and 85.7% of tournament games overall. As Monmouth and Mount St. Mary’s square off on Monday night at the MAC, those numbers will surely be in mind, as the victor will be assured of playing on their home court when the NEC Tournament opens up next Sunday.

The Monmouth Hawks received a huge break on Saturday afternoon when St. Francis went down at Bryant. Now the door is left open for MU to clinch the #3 seed with a victory, thus avoiding top seeded Quinnipiac until a potential final. With a loss, the Hawks would either host Central as the #4 seed or visit Mount as the #5 seed, in a rematch next Sunday. On the other side, it’s been 11 long years since the Mountaineers last hosted a tournament game at Knott Arena. The Mount can finally secure some home cooking for the playoffs if they can earn a win in West Long Branch on Monday night.


Monday night marks the 49th all-time meeting between Monmouth and the Mount, a series dating back to the 1977-78 season. All but three meetings have come with both teams as members of the Northeast Conference. The Mount enjoyed early dominance in the series, winning 13 straight from February 1992 to January 1997. In recent times, the Hawks have won 11 out of the last 17. Last year the teams split two meetings, each winning on their own home court. Earlier this season, the Mount and Monmouth met in the conference opener in Emmitsburg, MD, with the Mountaineers enjoying a 70-51 win. In that game the Hawks were playing without leading scorer Alysha Womack, who was out with a knee injury. Sydney Henderson led Mount with 16 points, while Chevannah Paalvast paced the Hawks and all scorers with 18.

The possibility exists that after this game these two could meet up once again in the NEC Tournament quarterfinals. The Hawks and Mountaineers have collided three previous times in the postseason, all in the semi-final round, with the Mount taking two out of the three. Mount came out victorious in the 1993 and 1996 semis, before the Hawks pulled off a ‘four seed over a one seed’ upset in the 1999 semis. These two have also been involved in some legendary marathons with each other over the years, with MU winning a 95-91 double overtime thriller in Boylan Gym in 2007 and a 104-100 triple overtime affair in Maryland back in 2004.  


Scoring Offense: MU (6th – 59.2), MSM (7th – 58.5)
Scoring Defense: MU (7th – 62.4), MSM (5th – 60.8)
Field Goal %: MU (9th - .375), MSM (2nd - .397)
Field Goal % Defense: MU (7th - .392), MSM (8th - .391)
3 point Field Goal %: MU (2nd - .333), MSM (4th - .326)


For a team that has been to two straight championship games and returned six key seniors, who were the heart of those teams, it’s quite unusual to see that kind of team go as under the radar as the Monmouth Hawks have this season. In a season where Quinnipiac is challenging history, Sacred Heart is trying to repeat, and St. Francis Brooklyn is going through an incredible turnaround year, there were plenty of other big stories going around the league, that Monmouth putting together another possible top four finish kind of got lost in the shuffle. But back again challenging for a title these Monmouth Hawks are indeed. Monmouth has appeared in the semi-finals five out of the last six years, and is looking to equal the 1994-96 St. Francis team and become just the second squad in NEC history to lose in the NEC finals back to back years, only to come back and win the final in year three. The Hawks are now playing some of their best ball going into the postseason. Monmouth has won six out of their last eight overall contests and five out of their last six at home.

On Saturday, the Hawks celebrated their six seniors with a 85-57 victory over the Wagner Seahawks on Senior Day. Seniors Alysha Womack, Carly Thibault, Abigail Martin, Adrianna Allen, Betsy Gadziala, and Gabby Singer combined for 61 out of the 85 team points. The Hawks shot a season high 54.7% from the floor, and were able to pull away with a 32-5 run that started the second half. Womack led all scorers with 19 points to go along with seven assists.  

Mount St. Mary’s is one of the storied programs in NEC history. The Mountaineers were dominant in the early 90’s and managed to rack up three straight NEC tournament titles from 1993-1995. The run included an 18-0 undefeated conference championship season in 1994 and locking up the NEC’s first two automatic berths into the NCAA tournament in 1994 and 1995. However, the program hasn’t won a playoff game since 2001, and in 2010 saw their run of 20 straight tournament appearances come to an end. After an extremely disappointing 8-21 season in 2011, head coach Bryan Witten was charged with the task of restoring the tradition back to Emmitsburg. Over the last two seasons, he has done exactly that. Last year the Mountaineers were selected 11th in the preseason poll, but in spite of those low expectations from league coaches, Mount would go on to have a fantastic bounce back season. In 2012, they would finish with 10 NEC wins and make the tournament for the first time since 2009. This year, looking to take the next step forward, the Mount is once again at the 10 win mark with one game in hand, and should they win that game, they will get a home playoff game for the first time since 2002. Junior Sydney Henderson leads the team in scoring with 13.4 points per night. Senior Selina Mann, who is one of the toughest, and hardest working players in the NEC, leads the team in rebounds, assists, and steals.

On Saturday, Mount St. Mary’s survived a close encounter against another Garden State school, the FDU Knights. Clinging to a 56-54 lead with less than eight minutes to go, the Mount outscored FDU 14-8 the rest of the way, including a perfect 6 for 6 from the charity stripe in the final 3:45, to earn the victory by eight. Henderson led the Mountaineers with 14 points and added 6 rebounds.


Hawk senior Gaby Singer has never missed a game in her four year collegiate career. She set the Monmouth team record when she played in her 123rd career game against Wagner on Saturday afternoon…Abigail Martin and Alysha Womack are both active members of the Hawks 1,000 career point club. Womack is fifth in Hawks history with 1,467 career points…The Hawks will be playing in their 458th, and final, regular season game as a member of the Northeast Conference…With a win, Monmouth’s six member senior class can tie a program record for most NEC wins over a four year stretch with 48. The Hawks also won 48 games between the 1997 and 2000 seasons.

Selina Mann has moved up to third on the Mount all time steals list with 324 for her career. The tenacious defender is fourth in the NEC in steals for the 2012-13 season...Redshirt junior Sydney Henderson has played the second most minutes in the NEC. She averages 35.7 minutes per night...Mount has played five schools this season who will be switching conferences in the near future: Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Quinnipiac, and Monmouth. The Mount's 74-64 victory over Seton Hall back in December stands as one of the signature victories for the team this season....The Mountaineers have played in five games this season decided by a single possession, and have won four out of those five games.


In addition to the Monmouth/Mount battle for a quarterfinal home playoff game, three other NEC games on the Monday night schedule contain major playoff implications.

First, in Smithfield, RI, the Bryant Bulldogs can clinch their first ever playoff berth with a win over Robert Morris. The Bulldogs, who are in their first year eligible to compete in the NEC Tournament after completing their transition period into Division I, will be in a “win or go home” situation. While they can get in with a win, a loss would mathematically eliminate them from playoff consideration. On the other side, RMU needs to win and get some outside help from Wagner in order to make the postseason for a ninth straight campaign. These two teams met in Moon Township eight weeks ago, on January 7th, with RMU holding on for a 71-69 victory. The Colonials saw a 19 point second half lead wither down to just two, but they managed to hold on and secure the victory. Artemis Spanou recorded 20 points and 26 rebounds, while Courtney Schissler led Bryant with 20 points, including going 6 for 9 from behind the arc.    

Should Bryant falter at home against the Colonials, the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights will have the next crack at wrapping up the #8 seed when they take on the Wagner Seahawks. Despite dropping three out of their last four games, hopes are still alive for FDU as they look to sneak into the playoffs and qualify for the fifth time in the last six years. FDU and Wagner collided in the very first conference game of the season back on January 5th, with the Knights coming away with a 68-59 victory. Junior Danielle Pankey had a career day with 28 points and 10 rebounds against the Seahawks.   

The third and final Monday night game with playoff implications is in New Britain, CT where the CCSU Blue Devils will welcome in the St. Francis Red Flash. After putting up 100 points last Monday against FDU, the Flash were held to just 54 points in a loss on Saturday at Bryant. The Red Flash will clinch a home playoff game with a victory. The Blue Devils will be seeded either fifth or sixth in the tournament. Alli Williams, who is second in the NEC in scoring, fourth in rebounding, and second in steals can really put a final stamp on her possible Player of the Year campaign if she can break out with some big numbers against a stingy Central defense.

Even though the Quinnipiac/St. Francis Brooklyn game doesn’t carry any playoff implications, it will still include some high stakes and will be worth a watch. The Bobcats can become the sixth NEC women’s basketball team history to complete an undefeated regular season. They can also win their 27th game of the season, which would set a NEC single year victory record, currently held by rival Sacred Heart and their 26 wins from a season ago. Meanwhile, even though the Terriers can’t improve their seeding, denying QU of history while they’re right at the doorstep could be the momentum boost they need going into the tournament. It would also be a tremendous final exclamation point on the spectacular resurgent season that the program has enjoyed in 2012-13. The Terriers have lost four out of their last five games, and already know they will travel to Sacred Heart to begin the NEC Tournament next Sunday.

Speaking of Sacred Heart, they will meet LIU Brooklyn in Brooklyn in a game that frankly has no implications on anything. You would figure that the Pioneers just want to get through the final 40 minutes of the regular season unharmed so they can focus their attention to the Terriers and their repeat bid for the NEC Championship.

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