Men’s Basketball Rolls FDU, Ninth in NEC

The men’s basketball team defeated Fairleigh Dickinson 73-54 Thursday night due to excellent play from their starting guards. Dion Nesmith, Christian White and Jesse Steele combined for 51 points and 11 assists.

“When you have Dion and Jesse and now you add Christian to the mix, that’s a lot of guys that can put points on the board in a lot of different ways,” head coach King Rice said. “So I like that rotation.”

Coming into the game, both teams were tied for eighth in the Northeast Conference (NEC) with 2-4 records against conference opponents.

“Every game is important,” White said. “It’s conference play. Every home game, every away game, everything means something. To win this one was important.”

The Hawks (8-13, 3-5) led 38-34 at halftime and took over from there.

MU went on a 17-5 run in the opening 7:04 of the second half. Steele led the run with seven points, followed by White who scored six on two three-pointers.

White, a freshman, set career highs for both points and assists against the Knights, scoring 18 and dishing out four assists. He also set career highs in field goals made and three-pointers made. He was six of 11 from the floor and four of six from beyond the arc. His high-arcing three-point shot seemed to be falling all night.

“My teammates got me the ball in great spots,” White said. “I didn’t have too many contested ones. That’s all them [teammates], finding me and setting good screens and stuff like that.”

“Christian makes them like this all the time,” Rice said. “It’s not like all of the sudden he got hot tonight. He made about seven or eight of them yesterday in practice, the same exact type of shots.”

Nesmith paced the Blue and White with 21 points in the game. He was six of nine shooting, two of three from the outside. He took advantage of his free throws as well, making seven of his eight shots from the charity stripe.

Steele scored 12 points in his squad’s third conference win of the season. He shot five of seven from the field and two of three from three-point land. Uncharacteristically, he missed all four of his free throw attempts.

The Hawks dominated FDU in second chance points, outscoring their in-state rival 26-6. MU out-rebounded the Knights 37-26, with freshman Tyrone O’Garro leading the way with nine boards.

“Most of the time when you get a second chance to score, you score,” Rice said. “When Tyrone gets a little bit stronger, because he jumps up over everybody and can go get them, but right now it’s a little physical for him, so he gets bumped off his cuts sometimes to get rebounds. But we’re going to be a great rebounding team before this is all said and done, and Tyrone will probably be the guy leading the way.”

Melquan Bolding led FDU with 18 points. He was seven of 11 from the floor and four of five from beyond the arc. Kinu Rochford and Yves Jules joined him in double figures with 10 points each.

The Blue and White struggled while students were away for break. They lost to Villanova by 27 points and Fordham by 11 to close out 2012 and their out-of-conference portion of the schedule.

NEC play opened with two losses on the road against Wagner (60-56) and Mount St. Mary’s (71-59).

The team broke its seven-game losing streak and picked up its first NEC win and 2013 win at home against Saint Francis 65-60. Two days later, they lost to Robert Morris at the MAC 70-55.

The Hawks split a weekend trip to Brooklyn, going 1-1 against St. Francis Brooklyn (71-67 win) and LIU Brooklyn (75-65 loss).

Saturday, MU traveled to Sacred Heart to try and win their second straight NEC game. They lost to the Pioneers 82-68. Sacred Heart won the final 12 minutes of the game 36-12 to take command and get the win.

Shane Gibson scored 33 points for the Pioneers. He was seven of 17 from the field, four of 10 from three-point range and 15 of 17 from the free throw line. Louis Montes added 25 points and five rebounds.

The Hawks have two home NEC games this week. Thursday they host Central Connecticut and Bryant on Saturday. MU is ninth in the conference, one game behind Central Connecticut who sits sixth at 4-4. Bryant is tied for first place in the NEC with a 6-2 record.