Public address announcer Burt Shoobs, behind the microphone for his 877th consecutive game at Fairleigh Dickinson University. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)
BY RAY FLORIANI
TEANECK, NJ -- For the first time in a decade, FDU hosted a Northeast Conference tournament game, as the second-seeded Knights welcomed Saint Francis University to the Rothman Center.
First half: For the better part of the half, the Knights ran and shot the three-pointer. For the better part of that half, the threes were misfiring (5-of-22 for 23 percent at the half). Saint Francis seized the opportunity to build leads that reached double figures with just over five minutes left. Late in the half FDU, in a half court set, was able to get guard penetration and a few conversions inside. By halftime, FDU had cut the deficit to two possessions.
Score: SFU 44, FDU 40
Possessions: FDU 36, SFU 34
Offensive efficiency: SFU 129, FDU 111
Second half: The first five possessions saw several different plots packed into those three-plus minutes. FDU’s Mike Holloway picked up two quick fouls, sitting him down with four. SFU decided to go almost exclusively inside to leading scorer Ronnie Drinnon. FDU responded, hitting a few threes. After five possessions, the Red Flash lead was one, 51-50. Stephan Jiggetts buried a three to give FDU the lead with just over a dozen minutes left. A few times, FDU looked to expand the lead, but didn’t capitalize. With just over five minutes left, the game is tied. Drinnon, at 6-7, is a workhorse on the boards, extending a few late game possessions with offensive boards. Similar to their January meeting here, this one is going to the wire. FDU misses a potential clinching free throw. SFU called a timeout with 13 seconds left. A deep (beyond NBA-range) is attempted, with negative results. FDU rebounds, gets fouled, and misses again from the charity stripe. In a scramble, SFU is fouled for a one-and-one with five seconds to play. First shot made. Second shot misses everything, FDU ball. The Knights were then fouled on the inbounds. FDU missed again, with SFU settling for a decisively short desperation heave.
Final: FDU 74, SFU 72
Offensive efficiency: FDU 111, SFU 108
eFG: SFU 47, FDU 49
FT rate: SFU 54, FDU 19
OREB pct: SFU 42, FDU 26
TO rate: SFU 21, FDU 6
Leading scorers and EF:
SFU: Ronnie Drinnon, 21 points, EF 43.
FDU: Darian Anderson, 22 points, EF 35.
What Saint Francis did well: Execute the game plan. Not really a zone team, the Red Flash played zone virtually the entire game and caught the Knights a bit off guard. “It is a testament to our players,” coach Rob Krimmel said. “On two days, they learned our game plan and totally bought into and executed it. I don’t think we zoned this much all year combined up until tonight.”
What FDU did well: Adjust a find a way to win after being down ten early, losing Mike Holloway to fouls, and missing key free throws down the stretch. Regardless, the Knights persevered. “Our players believe in each other a lot,” coach Greg Herenda remarked. “We are a blue collar university . You get something, you really work to earn it.” That, FDU did.
Drinnon added a game-high 22 rebounds to his 21 points. Earl Potts Jr. scored 15 points and contributed a team-high 10 boards for the Knights. Turnovers were crucial. FDU forced St. Francis into a high turnover rate and enjoyed an 18-2 edge in points off turnovers. In addition, the Knights committed just three for an outstanding 5 percent turnover rate. Turnovers, in a two-point game such as this, arguably were the deciding factor. FDU had four players in double figures. Stephan Jiggetts scored 12 points, adding a game-high seven assists and zero turnovers. The Red Flash owned the boards. In raw numbers, SFU outrebounded FDU, 49-33.
“Saint Francis has terrific seniors, they are so well coached, with that zone coming up, coach (Rob) Krimmel outcoached me. Sometimes our kids don’t listen, make bad decisions but only one player on our roster, Tyrone O’Garro; who played at Monmouth, ever played in a postseason game of that sort. To be down and come back as we did speaks so much for our team. We have broken this tournament down to three 40-minute sessions or games. The first 40 is done, the next one is Saturday.” - FDU coach Greg Herenda
“A great college game. Our kids bought into the game plan and we defended well in the second half. Our kids left it all out there. It is hard realizing it is the last game for some of our seniors such as Ron Drinnon and Greg Brown.. They were not able to bring a championship, but they built a great foundation. Now we can tell recruits when you work hard and follow what the coaches are teaching, you can be something special as well." - SFU coach Rob Krimmel