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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Chace Athletic Center (2,600) -- Smithfield, Rhode Island. Television: None. Home Record: Mount St. Mary's 10-2, Bryant 11-3. Away Record: Mount St. Mary's 6-11, Bryant 8-7. Neutral Record: Mount St. Mary's 0-0, Bryant 0-0. Conference Record: Mount St. Mary's 11-7, Bryant 12-6. Series Record: Mount St. Mary's leads, 7-2.
GAMES NOTES: Looking to break the NCAA record for regular season win improvement the Bryant Bulldogs will square off with the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers in the first round of the Northeastern Confrence Tournament at Chace Athletic Center.
A year ago at this time Bryant was just 2-28 overall but coming into the postseason this season the Bulldogs are 19-10. That 17.5 game turn around is would break the NCAA record for a one season turnaround of 17 games set by Mercer (2002-03) and Texas-El Paso (2003-04). The timing couldn't have been any better for the Bulldogs who come into this game as the fourth seed in the league Tournament during their first season of NEC and NCAA Tournament eligibility.
Mount St. Mary's makes it way to the NEC Tournament under first-year head coach Jamion Christian who led the Mountaineers to a 16-13 overall record and an 11-7 mark in league action. The Mountaineers are the hottest teams in the league entering the postseason as they picked up wins in their last seven games of the regular season. The Mountaineers will be looking for their third Northeastern Conference title and first since 2008.
During the regular season these teams split the series with the home team victorious each time. The Mountaineers own a 7-2 edge in the all-time series.
The Mountaineers erupted from 3-point range to run by Farleigh Dickinson, 103-82, in the regular season finale. Mount St. Mary's nailed 13 shots from beyond the arc and was paced by Shivaughn Wiggins who scored a game-high 28 points.
Wiggins (9.6 ppg) really had a strong start to his college career as he was named NEC Rookie of the Year earlier this week. Wiggins shot 48.6 percent from the floor on the season and hit 47.7 percent from 3-point range. Wiggins was more of a complimentary scorer most nights though with Rashad Whack (13.4 ppg) pacing the team on the offensive end of the floor. Julian Norfleet (10.8 ppg) and Sam Prescott (10.8 ppg) are additional scoring threats for the Mountaineers. Frontcourt depth was a real issue for the Mountaineers this season with the team ranked last in confrence in rebounds (28.8 pg). The Mountaineers also hurt themselves with the worst opponent field goal percentage in the country (.516).
Bryant picked up a dominating, 85-60, win over St. Francis (PA) in its season finale. The Bulldogs had five players in double figures with Alex Francis (19 points, 12 rebounds) and Vlad Kondratyev (10 points, 10 rebounds) each posting a double-double. As a team the Bulldogs hit 65.3 percent from the field while owning a massive 41-16 edge in rebounds.
Francis (17.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg), a first-team All-NEC selection has been one of the best bigs in the conference as he leads the NEC's second-best scoring offense. The Bulldogs put in 74.3 points per game and shoot an NEC-best 48.1 percent from the field. They also lead the league in assists (15.3 pg). Defensively the Bulldogs have not been as stellar allowing 71.1 points per game on 45 percent shooting. Dyami Starks (17.7 ppg) is another dynamic scorer for the Bulldogs and teams with Francis as the second-best scoring tandem in the conference. Frankie Dobbs (13.6 ppg, 5.1 apg) is a strong scorer in his own right while leading the team in assists.
With how well the Bulldogs can put points on the board it will be tough for the Mountaineers to keep up. Expect Bryant to keep it historical season alive and move on to the second round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bryant 77, Mount St. Mary's 72
03/06 10:34:58 ET
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