NEC Dreams Fading Away

The men’s basketball team lost both games this weekend to fall to 8-15 on the season, and more importantly, 3-7 in the Northeast Conference (NEC).

On Thursday, the Hawks lost to Central Connecticut 78-58. Kyle Vinales scored 24 points for the Blue Devils (10-11, 6-4) and Adonis Burbage added 21.

“I take my hat off to Central Connecticut,” head coach King Rice said. “We got totally out-classed tonight. Got out-coached, out-played in every aspect of the game. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The Blue and White fell behind 15-5 in the first five minutes of the game.

“We got dominated right from the beginning when our shots were getting blocked around the rim,” Rice said. “That set the tone for us and we could not guard them at all. We couldn’t guard any of them. And when you can’t guard anybody on the other team then you end up losing by 20.” 

“We let them get their heads up,” Marcus Ware said. “They got that confidence and they were just making every shot. We weren’t guarding hard enough. They were getting open shots. We weren’t putting our will on them.”

The Hawks clawed back and trailed 24-21 after an Ed Waite layup with 8:27 remaining in the first half. That’s the closest they would be for the rest of the game. Central Connecticut went on an 8-0 run to take a 32-21 lead, finished with a layup and foul by Vinales.

Vinales, who averages more than 22 points a game, was 10 of 21 from the field. He played the entire game and tallied five assists and four rebounds to go with his game-high 24 points.

Burbage played the entire game as well. He was eight of 17 from the floor and five of 12 from beyond the arc.

Malcolm McMillan and Matt Hunter also scored in double figures for the Blue Devils. The two combined for 24 points and shot four of six from three-point land.

Sophomore guard Andrew Nicholas returned to action for the first time after having a foot injury. He played 25 minutes and scored nine points. Nicholas shot four of 11 from the floor, including one of five from three-point range.

Ware and Stephen Spinella both scored in double figures for the Hawks. Ware was seven of 10 from the field for 16 points and grabbed six rebounds. Spinella scored 11 points, going two of three from three-point range.

Freshman forward Tyrone O’Garro led MU in rebounding with nine, all on the defensive side.

On Saturday, Bryant scored its first basket 18 seconds into the game and led the rest of the way. Guard Frankie Dobbs led the Bulldogs (15-6, 8-2) in scoring with 27 points.

“Tonight, I thought my kids really fought hard for 40 minutes,” Rice said. “Bryant is a very, very good team. They really played well together.”

“We fouled too many times,” Steele said. “They got a lot of baskets at the free throw line.” Bryant was 25 of 35 from the charity stripe.

Two free throws by Dion Nesmith had the Hawks behind Bryant 59-55 with 5:44 remaining in the game. A 9-0 run put the Bulldogs comfortably ahead of the Hawks 68-55 with 2:18 on the clock and ended any chance of an MU rally.

Jesse Steele scored a career-high for the Hawks. The senior guard scored 27 points, shooting 10 of 21 from the field. He also led the game in assists with five and steals with four.

“Jesse played unbelievable,” Rice said. “Jesse just did everything that he could tonight to keep us in it.”

Spinella and Nesmith were the next leading scorers for MU, accounting for nine points each.

Dobbs was six of nine shooting for Bryant, four of seven from three-point land.

Alex Francis added 15 points and Corey Maynard joined them in double figures with 10 points.

MU got into foul trouble against the Bulldogs. O’Garro fouled out while Ware, Nesmith and Waite all had four fouls.

“When you get in foul trouble, what can you do?” Rice asked. “It’s part of the game. Another guy has to come in. You might be out of position, but no excuses. We got beat by a better Bryant team tonight. We need to just keep working and hopefully we will get some of these next ones.”

The Hawks play at Quinnipiac this Thursday and Farleigh Dickinson Saturday to try and get back on the winning track.