St. Francis win streak snapped at eight by Mount
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Second-year St. Francis Brooklyn women's basketball coach John Thurston has a very simple mantra for his team to follow.
"I always say after every game that we don't have to play this one anymore," Thurston revealed following the Terriers' season-high eighth straight win Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center, a 69-48 rout of neighborhood rival LIU-Brooklyn.
"It's nice, but it only lasts until the end of today," added Thurston. "Tomorrow we have to wake up with the mindset that we're 0-0. Our team hasn't gotten carried away with the record, they just play."
Despite heeding their coach's call for a short-term memory, the Northeast Conference-leading Terriers (13-2, 3-1 NEC) tasted defeat for the first time in 2014 on Monday night at Mount St. Mary's Knott Arena -- albeit in an 85-79 double-overtime heartbreaker to the Mountaineers (7-9, 2-2).
Junior guard Eilidh Simpson, a strong candidate for NEC Player of the Year honors, poured in 23 points and ripped down 11 rebounds for St. Francis, which hadn't lost a game since suffering a 79-58 thumping at Big East foe Miami on Nov. 29.
Third-year guard Katie Fox forced overtime with a jumper in the closing seconds of regulation and senior Jasmin Robinson knocked down two clutch free throws with under a second to go in the first extra session to extend the Terriers' hopes of pulling out a ninth consecutive victory.
Whether they were out of gas, or simply due for a loss, the Terriers managed only one field goal in the second overtime en route to their first league defeat of the year.
The painful setback dropped St. Francis back into a four-way tie with Bryant, Robert Morris and Sacred Heart for the top spot in the NEC, but the Terriers maintained the top overall record in the league by four games over Bryant (8-7).
"We have to come out and play hard every day," sophomore Leah Fuchko noted after the big win over the Blackbirds in Downtown Brooklyn. "Everybody's aiming at us now."
Having a target on their back is a true rarity for the Terriers, who wallowed at the bottom of the conference standings for many years before Thurston led them to a spot in last year's NEC Tournament.
Though one difficult loss can hardly blemish what St. Francis has achieved during the season's first two months, the Terriers know they have to get back on the winning track and begin a new streak Saturday at the Pope Center on Remsen Street against visiting Sacred Heart.
"Every game matters now," Simpson said. "Winning is the best feeling that any athlete can ever feel."
The Blackbirds (3-11, 1-3 NEC) rebounded from their humbling defeat at the hands of the Terriers by beating visiting Central Connecticut State, 60-51, Monday night at the Steinberg Center.
Sophomore guard Sophie Basin scored 17 of her 22 points following intermission as LIU-Brooklyn held off a late charge by the Blue Devils to post its first NEC victory of the campaign.
Senior Cleandra Roberts had 12 points and six rebounds for the Blackbirds, who will visit Bryant on Saturday hoping to secure their first back-to-back wins of the season, and more importantly, climb back into contention for an NEC postseason spot.
The Lady Bulldogs of Brooklyn College grinded out a 47-35 triumph over borough rival St. Joseph's Monday night at Brooklyn Tech High School behind a team-high 11 points, five rebounds and six steals by junior guard Nicole Francomano.
Senior Megan Campbell added 10 points and senior forward T'Keyah Francis of Brooklyn's Thomas Jefferson High School ruled the boards with a game-high 16 rebounds as BC (9-4) won its second straight game despite shooting a dismal 25 percent from the field.
The Bulldogs will host CUNYAC rival Hunter on Wednesday evening.
Unfortunately, the BC men couldn't follow the ladies' lead Monday night, suffering an 88-75 setback to St. Joe's at Brooklyn Tech.
Sophomore Jamel Gist scored a game-high 36 points for the Bulldogs (3-10), but the Bears (8-7) got 30 points apiece from Brooklyn natives David Louison and Michael Megafu to pull out the victory.
BC will host Hunter Wednesday night following the Lady Bulldogs' game.
The St. Francis Brooklyn men will be back in action Thursday night at CCSU after Saturday's afternoon 88-82 loss to NEC rival Mount St. Mary's.
Junior forward Jalen Cannon did his best to keep the surprising Terriers atop the conference standings, scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, but St. Francis fell to 10-7 (1-1 NEC) on the season.
The loss came two nights after the Terriers took down three-time defending NEC champion LIU, 78-64, before a packed house at the Pope Center.
Senior sharpshooter Ben Mockford was on fire throughout the contest, pouring in a career-high 30 points and Cannon contributed 19 points and 14 boards as the Terriers ended a six-game losing streak in the Battle of Brooklyn rivalry.
The LIU men are certainly having a rough go of it in pursuit of an unprecedented fourth consecutive NEC crown.
After the loss at St. Francis, the Blackbirds fell to 5-10 overall and 0-2 in league play with Saturday afternoon's 84-70 loss to Wagner.
Playing without former NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd for the rest of the season and missing injured shooting guard Gerrell Martin due to an ankle injury, the shorthanded Blackbirds remained close until halftime but were outrun by the Seahawks following intermission.
NCAA assists leader Jason Brickman had 12 points and six helpers for LIU, which will take a third shot at its first NEC win Thursday night against visiting Fairleigh Dickinson.
In other local college sports news, BigAppleSoccer.com announced Monday that St. Francis Brooklyn men's head soccer coach Tom Giovatto and junior forward Kevin Correa were named the BigAppleSoccer.com Coach and Player of the Year.
Last month, Giovatto was named the North Atlantic Region head coach of the year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America while Correa garnered NSCAA All-America Third Team honors.
St. Francis Brooklyn enjoyed its most successful men's soccer season in more than three decades in 2013.
The Terriers captured the NEC championship for the first time since 1998 and reached the NCAA Division I soccer tournament for the first time since 1982.
Correa led the team in goals scored with 13 for the second straight campaign. He added six assists and 32 points to rank among the top-three in the league in all three statistical categories.
During his two-year stint on Remsen Street, the former Flushing High School star has amassed 24 goals, which is currently 11th best all-time at the Downtown school. His 57 career points rank 13th.