St. Francis College men’s basketball completes non-conference slate in style
Terriers take aim at NEC crown after posting eighth win
A strong finish to the non-conference portion of its schedule doesn’t guarantee success going forward for the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s basketball team.
But head coach Glenn Braica was clearly enthused by his surging team’s performance following Saturday’s 72-56 rout of visiting Manhattan College in front of 612 fans at Remsen Street’s Pope Center.
“I thought today was a great win. I thought we did a good job in the second half handling the ball. I was really proud of our guys,” said Braica after the Terriers broke a halftime deadlock by outscoring the Jaspers 44-28 over the final 20 minutes.
With the win, SFC improved to 8-5 on the year, the best record of any team in the Northeast Conference.
It also marked the first time the Terriers have won as many as eight non-conference contests since the 2013-14 campaign.
The victory was doubly important because it came just four days after the Terriers were stomped by unbeaten St. John’s, 86-52, in Jamaica, N.Y.
“Last game was frustrating, but it’s something that you can’t really dwell on,” ceded grad student guard Glenn Sanabria, who shook off an 0-for-12 shooting performance against the Red Storm by putting up a team-high 16 points against Manhattan.
Last year, the Terriers managed only three non-conference victories but finished 10-8 in conference play.
Winning eight of 13 games to begin the year doesn’t necessarily mean SFC is on its way to its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth, especially with Braica keeping the Terriers’ egos in check.
“We’ve had a nice non-conference season, but right now it’s back to 0-0,” Braica insisted.
“We have to start all over again. It’s no time to rest on your laurels or step back and relax. We just have to keep working and stay healthy and keep getting better every day.”
Braica revealed that he’d give the Terriers a couple of days off before their scheduled return to the gym yesterday for the first practice ahead of their Jan. 3 Northeast Conference opener against Bryant in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
SFC is unbeaten on its home floor this season, a perfect 5-0, but it will begin the push toward the NEC Tournament with two road games, visiting Wagner on Staten Island two days after taking on the Bulldogs.
“When you play in the conference schedule, it’s Thursday and Saturday the rest of the year,” said Sanabria. “You have to be resilient to be successful.”
The Terriers have certainly displayed an ability to bounce back thus far this year.
They’ve suffered consecutive losses just once from Nov. 11-14 at Boston College and Richmond, respectively, but have rebounded to win seven of their last 10.
“They’re resilient and they’re tough,” Braica said of his team. “That’s how you win at the end of the way. We don’t know how good we are yet. I believe in toughness.”
Things haven’t gone nearly as well for the defending NEC champion Blackbirds from LIU-Brooklyn.
Head coach Derek Kellogg’s squad was on the verge of victory last Friday night at Barclays Center before Binghamton’s J.C. Show nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to leave the Blackbirds with a heartbreaking 68-67 loss.
Sophomore Ty Flowers scored a career-high 27 points and senior Raiquan Clark added 15 points as LIU (5-6) lost for the third time in four games.
The Blackbirds will have an opportunity to finish up the non-conference portion of its slate at .500 when they visit Fordham up in the Bronx on Sunday.
LIU will officially begin defense of its NEC crown at Sacred Heart on Jan. 3 before visiting Bryant two days later.
On the women’s side, the Terriers will try to avoid a third consecutive loss Sunday when they visit Stony Brook following last Wednesday’s 83-64 loss to Princeton at the Pope Center.
Junior guard Jade Johnson poured in a career-best 31 points against the Tigers, but SFC suffered its first back-to-back losses on Remsen Street since February of 2017.
“Jade is a pleasure to coach, she’s a phenomenal shooter,” SFC head coach Linda Cimino said after Johnson went 9-of-20 from the floor, including 6-of-13 from 3-point range.
“She works really hard. It’s not a secret as to how she became such a good player.”
After visiting the Seawolves, the Terriers will begin their NEC scheduled Jan. 5 at Wagner.
The LIU-Brooklyn women’s squad dropped to 0-10 on the year with last Thursday night’s 72-38 setback at Lehigh in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Freshman guard Ryan Weise scored a team-high 14 points for the Blackbirds, who will take another shot at their first win Saturday against Lafayette here in Downtown Brooklyn.
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