Mount St. Mary's (14-16) at Wagner (19-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 12 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Spiro Sports Center (2,100) -- Staten Island, New York. Television: MSG+, FCS. Home Record: Mount St. Mary's 10-3, Wagner 10-2. Away Record: Mount St. Mary's 4-13, Wagner 8-7. Neutral Record: Mount St. Mary's 0-0, Wagner 1-2. Conference Record: Mount St. Mary's 9-7, Wagner 12-4. Series Record: Wagner leads, 32-18.
GAME NOTES: The first of the Northeast Conference Tournament semifinal matchups on Saturday will feature the fourth-seeded Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers traveling to face the second-seeded Wagner Seahawks at Spiro Sports Center with a spot in the conference final game on the line.
Mount St. Mary's defeated St. Francis-Brooklyn on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the NEC Tournament by a narrow 72-71 margin to advance to the semis, The Mountaineers enter this matchup with Wagner having won their last two games in a row, and three of their last four dating back to the regular season.
When it comes to the Northeast Conference, not many teams were as hot as Wagner entering postseason play. The Seahawks won their last eight games to end their schedule, and then defeated Central Connecticut State, 83-59, on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round to make it nine straight victories. The second-seeded Seahawks will be trying to knock last year's NEC runner-up out before the finals.
Wagner has a sizeable lead in the all-time series between the two programs entering this head-to-head clash, 32-18. The Mountaineers and Seahawks split the season series in 2014, with each team taking a victory on their home court.
Mount St. Mary's and St. Francis-Brooklyn battled in a back-and-forth contest in the quarterfinal round on Wednesday, but it was the Mountaineers who came out on top after a Rashad Whack 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left to play in regulation gave his team the victory. Whack finished the game with a team-high 28 points, hitting 7-of-22 shots from the floor and 10-of-12 from the free- throw line. Julian Norfleet chipped in 17 points with five rebounds and six assists in the win. The Mountaineers shot 33.3 percent from the floor in the contest.
Norfleet and Whack top the Mount St. Mary's squad this season in scoring with 17.5 ppg, while Norfleet boasts a team-leading 5.5 apg total. Whack leads the squad with 1.7 spg and adds a healthy 4.5 rpg mark to his resume. Gregory Graves leads the Mountaineers in rebounding with a 5.4 rpg average, while both Sam Prescott and Taylor Danaher add 5.1 rpg each. The Mountaineers are averaging 75.8 ppg this season, but are giving up 78.4 ppg to their opponents.
Wagner took an eight-point lead into the half against Central Connecticut State on Wednesday, then absolutely demolished the Blue Devils in the second period by outscoring them, 46-30, in the half for the huge win. Kenneth Ortiz led all Seahawks scorers with 21 points, while Orlando Parker and Marcus Burton each netted 13 points. Parker tallied a double-double by adding 12 rebounds to his stat line. Greg Senat chipped in 10 points, and Naofall Folahan pulled down 10 boards.
Latif Rivers and Ortiz are the top two scorers for Wagner this season, each netting 13.5 ppg in a year where the Seahawks are scoring 71.5 ppg as a unit. Ortiz tops the squad with 128 total assists and 56 steals, and adds a solid 4.5 rpg mark to his game. Parker is the team's leading rebounder at 6.8 rpg, and Folahan tops the squad with 84 blocked shots. Burton chips in 11 ppg for Wagner on the year, and Jay Harris rounds out the double-digit team scorers with 10.3 ppg.
This has the makings of an extremely evenly matched contest, with each team led by two top scorers, highlighted by solid scoring offenses. Remember, they split the season series and each won on their home court, which is a good reason to believe Wagner will advance to the conference finals on Tuesday.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wagner 74, Mount St. Mary's 70
03/08 10:17:20 ET