WRITTEN BY DAVID MENZE
Hackensack, NJ — St. Francis College Terriers will be the #4 seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament after losing 45-44 to Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday. The Terriers will host Quinnipiac on Thursday, March 1 at 7:00p.m.
Freshman power forward Jalen Cannon corralled a game-high 20 rebounds on Saturday against FDU
Quinnipiac (17-12 overall, 10-8 NEC) upset Robert Morris 73-69 earlier today to clinch fifth place in the conference. James Johnson scored 28 points for Quinnipiac and converted four-of-six foul-shots in the final 13 seconds of the game. Velton Jones scored 29 points for Robert Morris (22-9, 13-5 NEC) but fouled out with 6.3 seconds remaining with his team trailing 71-69.
If St. Francis would have defeated FDU, they would have been the #3 seed over Robert Morris because the Terriers own the tiebreaker by beating Robert Morris twice this season. Because St. Francis lost, they drop to the #4 seed.
The Knights scored the first basket of the game but St. Francis responded by scoring nine straight points. At the 11:31 mark the Terriers led 9-4 as freshman power forward Jalen Cannon already pulled down six rebounds.
St. Francis took a 23-14 lead with 3:34 to go in the first half as the Terriers were shooting 36.4 percent from the field. FDU responded with a 6-0 run to shrink the lead to 23-18 with less than a minute to go.
St. Francis nursed a 24-23 lead at the 16:43 mark after the Knights opened the second half with a 5-0 run. The Terriers were leading 29-25 with 11:42 to play when Cannon corralled his 15 rebound of the contest.
FDU recaptured the lead, 33-31, as the Terriers were shooting just 15.8 percent from the field with eight minutes to play.
St. Francis gained life however, and went on a 7-2 run, reclaiming the lead 38-35 with five minutes remaining.
The Knights answered back with a 7-2 spurt and took the lead 42-40 with just a minute to go.
Fairleigh Dickinson (3-26, 2-16 NEC) held on for their third win of the season as they defeat St. Francis (15-14, 12-6 NEC) by one point, 45-44.
FDU’s Melquan Bolding led all scorers with 18 points. Teammate Kinu Rochford posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards. No other Knight was in double-figures.
Kevin Douglas had a team-high 14 points for St. Francis in just 22 minutes of action. Ben Mockford chipped in with 12 points. Teammate Jalen Cannon added 20 rebounds in the contest.
St. Francis struggled shooting in the game as they never converted more than 31 percent of their shots from the field. In the second half they shot 10 percent (1-of-11) from behind the arc and 25.9 percent (7-of-27) overall.
FDU shot 32 percent (16-of-50) overall without hitting a single three-pointer in the game (0-for-11).
The Terriers will host Quinnipiac on Thursday, March 1 at 7:00p.m. in an NEC Quarterfinal match-up.
The Terriers trail the all-time series by a 48-35 margin.
St. Francis has dominated the Knights recently however, winning seven of the last eight meetings dating back to 2007. The Terriers defeated FDU, 62-51, at home in Brooklyn Heights this past January.
In an NEC preseason coaches poll, St. Francis was predicted to finish 11th place (second worst) in the conference. To much of the leagues shagrin, the Terriers will finish no worse than fourth-place and have already tallied 12 conference victories, the most since the 2003-2004 season when they finished 12-6, with two games still to play.
St. Francis was tied with Robert Morris for third place before Thursday’s match-up’s but Robert Morris defeated Sacred Heart, 55-53, and took over sole possession of the #3 seed.
Robert Morris tipped-off earlier today at Quinninpiac. If Robert Morris loses and St. Francis wins, both teams will be tied again for third place.
In that scenerio, the Terriers will be the #3 seed because they own the tiebreaker having defeated Robert Morris twice this season.
Last game however, with a chance to set a new school-record in conference victories, St. Francis blew an 18-point first half lead and eventually lost at Monmouth 79-73 on Thursday night.
Jessie Steele scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half as teammates Dion Nesmith and Andrew Nicholas chipped in with 15 points apiece for Monmouth. Marcus Ware was also in double-figures with 12 points.
The Terriers led the Hawks 36-18 at the 5:57 mark in the first half but Monmouth was able to cut the lead 38-29 after the hosts went on an 11-2 run to end the first half.
The Hawks opened the second half on fire with a 15-5 stretch as Steele hit a three-pointer to take a 44-43 advantage over St. Francis with 14:54 remaining.
The Terriers regained the lead 45-44 with a Brent Jones jumper, but Nicholas scored five straight points for Monmouth to spark an 11-1 spurt.
With just 29 seconds left to play the Hawks were up 77-68. St. Francis then scored five straight points in the next 21 seconds to shrink the lead to just four. However, Steele responded for Monmouth by sinking two clutch free-throws to seal the victory.
Last Saturday night against Sacred Heart in a MSG primetime telecast, Travis Nichols knocked down a put-back with 1 second remaining to give the Terriers a thrilling 58-56 victory. Junior forward Akeem Johnson led St. Francis with 16 points and added nine rebounds in the contest as Stefan Perunicic (11 points) and Brent Jones (10 points, six assists) were also in double-figures. Freshman forward Jalen Cannon added a team-high 10 rebounds.
Senior forward Stefan Perunicic has moved into 16th-place on the Terriers all-time scoring list with 1,152 points and has now hit 277 career three-pointers. He is 18 shy of the school record.
Senior guard Justin Newton is now eighth on St. Francis’ all-time assists list with 294 dimes. He needs just two steals to move into the top-ten in Terrier history.