Tim Cluess, Kevin Cluess, T.J. Cluess

Late Night Snacks: Lamont Jones, Sean Armand lead Iona past Fairfield

Leave a comment

Game of the Night 

Iona 84, Fairfield 75

In a game the Stags needed to maintain contact with the upper portion of the MAAC standings early foul trouble and 15 first-half points from Sean Armand got them in trouble. Despite the efforts of guard Derek Needham (26 points) Fairfield fell short in New Rochelle, with Lamont Jones heating up in the second half to shut the door. Jones, after a halftime sneaker change, scored 22 of his 27 points in the final 20 minutes to push the Gaels to 6-1 in conference play. Fairfield falls to 2-5 in MAAC play, and they’re in a tie for seventh place with Siena.

Other Outcomes 

1. Vermont 81, Stony Brook 73 

In a rematch of last season’s America East tournament final the Catamounts defended their home floor, winning thanks in large part to Candon Rusin and Clancy Rugg. Rusin, who began his college career at Marist, led all scorers with 22 points and Rugg posted a double-double (19 points, 15 rebounds). Vermont led by as many as 18 in the second half before the Seawolves went on a run to close to within four, with Brian Voelkel’s offensive foul/technical foul combo resulting in his fifth foul and opening the door for a comeback. Dave Coley and Jameel Warney led four Stony Brook players in double figures with 15 apiece, and the freshman Warney also grabbed ten rebounds.

2. Jacksonville 77, North Florida 68 

The Ospreys had a chance to pull even with Jacksonville in the Atlantic Sun standings in front of the largest crowd in school history, but the Dolphins were the ones who left with the victory. Keith McDougald scored 17 points and Javon Dawson added 17 off the bench for Jacksonville, who is now 5-2 in conference play. UNF’s Parker Smith led all scorers with 19 points and Will Wilson fell just short of a double-double with eight points and 11 rebounds.

Starred

1. G Sean Armand and G Lamont Jones (Iona) 

In the Gaels’ 84-75 win over Fairfield the two guards essentially took turns being the primary scorer. Armand scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half, and Jones scored 22 of his 27 in the second half.

2. F Clancy Rugg (Vermont) and G Candon Rusin (Vermont)

Brain Voelkel fouling out opened the door for Stony Brook to mount a comeback, but Rugg and Rusin were the biggest reason why there were unable to do so. The hometown kid (Rugg) finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds and Rusin scored a game-high 22 in the Catamounts’ 81-73 victory.

3. G Derek Needham (Fairfield) 

Needham fought off early foul trouble (three fouls in the first half), finishing with 26 points and six rebounds for the Stags.

Struggled 

1. Denny Burguillos and Cameron Solomon (Georgia State)

The Panthers didn’t play tonight but these two were ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season. That, and the fact that there were just three games on the schedule, results in a spot on this list.

2. Stony Brook three-point shooting

The Seawolves struggled from beyond the arc, shooting 6-of-22 in their 81-73 loss at Vermont. The Catamounts weren’t much better (4-of-15) but they made up for it by outscoring Stony Brook 25-17 from the foul line.

3. F David Laury (Iona) 

Laury’s only here for the shooting, as he shot just 2-of-12 from the field (nine points). But if not for his 14 rebounds and five blocked shots with Taaj Ridley (suspension) out of the lineup, Iona would have found it far more difficult to hold off Fairfield.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Leave a comment

Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 11.57.22 PM
Leave a comment

Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.