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NEC Daily Ball Screen: 12/14/21

Trailing by 1-point at the break, and eventually 43-36 about 3.5 minutes into the 2nd half, Sacred Heart went on a 20-2 run in a blowout win at Columbia on Monday night. The final score of 79-69 doesn't tell the whole story; SHU was up 77-56 with 2:38 remaining before the Lions went on a 10-2 run during garbage time.

Tyler Thomas, who was forced to go to the bench in the 1st half after picking up his 2nd foul, exploded in the 2nd half. All told, he ended up with 19 points on 9 of 13 shooting, capped off by a wonderful ally-oop dunk off an Aaron Clarke pass. Thomas also added 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Clarke, who returned after missing the URI loss last week with an ankle injury, struggled from three (0 of 4), but more than made up for it with 8 assists and 2 turnovers in 27 minutes.

However, the story may have been Nico Galette. The 6'6" rim-running forward finished with 18 points and 5 boards, including making 2 of 3 from downtown. Perhaps no returning NEC player has improved as much as Galette, who is playing 72.6% of available minutes this year after not seeing much run at all as a freshman (24.5%). Where he's done most of his work is on the boards; he's 3rd in the league in defensive rebounding rate (22.4%) and 4th in offensive rebounding rate (9.8%). However, it's been an offensive weapon as well, especially around the rim (19 of 31, 61.3%). While he's made just 9 of 41 from beyond the arc, the SHU staff clearly believes in his ability to step out and shoot it, or else he wouldn't have taken as many as he has.

While Columbia had success shooting the ball (8 of 21 from three, 58.8% eFG%), the Pios gave up just 5 offensive rebounds and forced 16 (23.%) turnovers.

Alex Watson added 10 points for SHU, while Mike Sixsmith knocked down two 3-pointers. Cantavio Dutreil did not play in this one.

Columbia's Liam Murphy kept the Lions in the game thanks to shooting 6 of 10 from deep, while 6'7" 248 lb. big Ike Nweke scored 17 points on 14 shots, and also grabbed 6 boards. Sophomore wing Josh Odunowo is an impressive athlete who went for 15/8. Former Bryant forward Patrick Harding only saw 5 minutes off the bench, as he's been relegated to part-time duty with the return of Nweke, who missed 9 games.

Today's Games

Central Connecticut at Stony Brook, 6:31pm, ESPN3

St. Francis (PA) at Hartford, 7pm, ESPN3

Things to Watch:


Can someone step up offensively alongside Nigel Scantlebury? The 4th year PG leads the team in scoring (11.7 ppg) and assists (3.0 apg). However, no one else is averaging more than 8.3ppg or 1.2apg. When CCSU plays well, Scantlebury gets help from secondary scorers; in their win over Holy Cross, Ian Krishnan scored 16. In the Blue Devils win over Maine, Tre Mitchell, Davonte Sweatman, and Jayden Brown joined Scantlebury in double-figures. And in their double-OT loss to Fordham, it was Krishnan with 17 and Zach Newkirk with 13.

SFU at UHart

We all know the Red Flash can score, but can they start defending? Excluding any pre-season bias, SFU has the league's worst Adjusted Defensive Efficiency at 113.1 pts/100 possessions (346th nationally), and are allowing the 331st eFG% (55.3%). Hartford has struggled to protect the basketball, but they can shoot it; they're top 100 in both 2P% (54.5%, 51st) and 3P% (35.3%, 97th). Senior wing Austin Williams is a killer inside, as is 6'8" Jared Kimbrough, who is working his way back from an injury but did play 14 minutes in their loss to UNLV three days ago. Hunter Marks, David Shriver, Moses Flowers, and D.J. Mitchell are all shooting better than 34% from three, and shoot it at a high volume.

Best Bets

Season Record: 15-17

Today's Bet: St. Francis (PA) at Hartford (over 148.5)

The Red Flash have hit the over on every game this season, while UHart has done it 6 out of 9 games. Both teams have high octane offenses and have really struggled to get stops, even on an adjusted basis). That's a high number, but this game is likely to end up in the 80s.

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