by Patrick Gustavson
With five weeks remaining in the regular season, things are beginning to fall into place for women’s basketball teams in the Northeast Conference.
The records and statistics listed in this article are as of Saturday, Jan. 27.
Robert Morris has been the best team in the conference thus far, having not lost a game in conference play, and only four all season. The Colonials have gotten it done all season long on the defensive side, leading the conference in scoring defense, allowing a measly 55 points per game and have not even given up 1,000 points total for the entire season.
Despite the stellar play of RMU, Saint Francis (PA) remains hot on their trail at 7-1. The only loss for the Red Flash came at the hands of the Colonials, by just a point, on Jan. 13. On the contrary to Robert Morris, the Red Flash have the best scoring offense in the conference, averaging a robust 80 points a game. They’re led by Jessica Kovatch, who leads the conference in scoring with just under 24 points a game.
The next four teams are all separated by just a game and a half. Bryant currently holds third place, with a 5-3 record. The Bulldogs suffered a 23-point loss at the hands of Robert Morris on Saturday. Fairleigh Dickinson and LIU Brooklyn remain tied for the coveted fourth spot, dictating who will get a home playoff game. The Knights of FDU have been efficient both offensively and defensively and are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the conference.
As for LIU, the Blackbirds have been led by Denisha Petty-Evans all season. Petty-Evans is also third in the conference in scoring, averaging over 17 points a game.
Mount St. Mary’s follows closely behind with a 4-5 record. The Mountaineers’ strong suit is their offense, as they are in the top three in the conference in scoring. They are also a solid team from beyond the three-point arc.
It is only inevitable that these four teams will begin to cannibalize each other, as the Knights take on both LIU and Bryant in their next two games. Over the next few games, who prevails and obtains a playoff game on their home court will be decided.
Things are also interesting towards the bottom of the standings, where four teams are competing for the two remaining playoff spots. Currently, Sacred Heart and Saint Francis (BKN) are tied for seventh place, with a 3-5 record.
Sacred Heart’s record may not be indicative of how well they have played. They are averaging 65 points a game, good enough for second in the conference. However, they have struggled on the defensive end, letting up 73 points per game to opponents.
The Terriers have lost two straight games following an impressive three-game winning streak. Had things gone the other way against opponents like Bryant and FDU, they could have been more in the conversation, but they now find themselves clinging to a spot in the conference tournament.
The two teams currently on the outside-looking-in are Central Connecticut and Wagner. CCSU, currently sitting at 2-6, has just two wins on the entire season, both coming at in NEC play. The Blue Devils are last in the conference in scoring margin and second to last in scoring. The team has had their chances to move up in the standings, squandering a double-digit lead against Bryant, as well as a late lead against LIU.
Wagner sits at the bottom of the standings. The Seahawks possess one of the best players in the conference, forward Sierra Clarke, but have only managed to win one in-conference game. Much like CCSU, offensive woes have plagued the Seahawks. They will need to get even with teams who have bested them in order for a shot at the post-season.
With just over a month remaining, teams in the NEC will be chasing Robert Morris and Saint Francis (PA), for the coveted automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.