Terriers keeping postseason hopes alive
Complete sweep of Fairleigh Dickinson with 90-87 win
What a difference a week made for the St. Francis men’s basketball team.
After finishing off a season-high four-game losing streak with their second defeat in nine days to neighborhood rival Long Island University last week, the Terriers’ dreams of a Northeast Conference Tournament bid looked all but lost.
But suddenly, head coach Glenn Braica’s squad is right back in the postseason hunt.
Grad students Unique McLean and Travis Atson scored 20 points apiece and senior Chauncey Hawkins added 19 as SFC held off Fairleigh Dickinson, 90-87, on Wednesday night at Stratis Arena in Hackensack, N.J., for its third victory in four games.
Despite squandering all of a 14-point, second-half lead, the Terriers found a way to finish off their sweep of the Knights after Hawkins snapped an 80-80 deadlock by nailing a jumper with 2:07 to play.
Sophomore Rob Higgins added 17 points for the Terriers (7-8, 7-7 NEC), who moved into a tie with LIU (7-7) for sixth place in the conference playoff race.
Due to new rules put in place specifically for this COVID-19-restricted campaign, only four teams will qualify for next month’s season-ending tournament rather than the traditional eight.
With four games left on their schedule, beginning with the opener of a two-game set against Sacred Heart here on Remsen Street Saturday, the Terriers are just one game behind the visiting Pioneers for the fourth and final tournament slot.
If SFC keeps rolling the way it has since a 96-84 loss to the Sharks at the Steinberg Wellness Center on Feb. 8, it might just be in playoff position by Sunday, when it will complete its two-game set with SHU.
The victory over FDU was Braica’s 100th in NEC play, making him the only active head coach in the league to have reached that plateau.
The Terriers’ long-time leader recorded his 150th overall career win at SFC earlier this month, making him the third coach in program history to do so.
Over at LIU, the Sharks are still licking their wounds after getting swept by Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland last Thursday and Friday.
The two defeats sunk the Sharks in the standings and left them with an eight-day hiatus before they return to action Saturday night for the first of a two-game set with visiting Central Connecticut State.
The SFC women’s team was supposed to visit Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Connecticut this week, but both of those contests have been postponed.
The Terriers announced on their website Wednesday that the Terriers have, “paused all basketball activities due to a positive COVID-19 test result from the program’s Tier 1 personnel. Tier 1 members include student-athletes, coaches, and support staff.”
SFC’s next scheduled games in Brooklyn Heights are on Feb. 28 and March 1 vs. Merrimack, though it is unknown if the Terriers will be able to return to action before those two regular season-ending contests.
In other local college sports news, SFC hired two new assistant coaches last week, bolstering the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs as well as the women’s bowling team.
Terriers Director of Aquatics Brian Guidera announced the addition of former USA National team member and former NCAA champion Emma Reaney to his coaching staff as an assistant.
“We are thrilled to have Emma join our staff,” said Guidera. “She comes in with an incredible NCAA career and a wealth of elite swimming experience. We look forward to her being able to share her expertise with our student-athletes as she will be an integral part of our program,”
SFC women’s bowling head coach Dawn Gugliaro announced that three-time All-American, two-time Southland Bowling League Player of the Year and 2019 NCAA Player of the Year Maria Bulanova has joined the Terriers’ coaching staff as a Graduate Assistant Coach.
“I’m extremely happy to join the SFC bowling family this season! I haven’t been here long, but I see how excited and ready the team is to work,” said Bulanova.
“These days, we never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so I’ll do my best to get the best out of the little practice and competition time we’ll have with the girls! I’m eager to start teaching them everything I know and to give them the best collegiate bowling experience I can!”
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