By Julian Bell
HACKENSACK) – The men’s basketball team won their NEC home game against Central Connecticut on Feb. 9.
The Knights romped in their away game against the Blue Devils earlier this season sweeping them 2-0 for the year.
“We knew that we had to perform, play well, but most of all win. So I think everyone was on high alert to their best and we really worked on in practice, passing the ball up the court and moving the ball which we started not to do,” said head coach Greg Herenda after the win over Central Connecticut.
“I think sharing the ball on offense was our number one goal and we were able to do that,” he said.
The Knights (11-14, 9-5 NEC) dominated the first and second half of the contest, leaving the Blue Devils trailing behind for most of the game. A relentless offensive performance led by Earl Potts Jr. led FDU past their opponent.
The Knights held Central Connecticut to 31 points in each half with 12 total steals on the night, twice as many as the Blue Devils.
“We blocked a lot of shots and we were active and when you get a lead at home, we started to feel like the old team that we were. It was just a combination of things, but on offense we needed to play better and our offense was really good today,” Herenda said.
“We shot the ball well and we passed it, we guarded and rebounded well enough to win and that was a team that just beat the number one team in the league on the road,” he said.
FDU also dominated Central Connecticut (5-20, 3-11 NEC) in turnover points, scoring 16 versus the Blue Devils who only came away with seven. The Knights were also more successful at the free-throw line scoring 18 points in the paint, compared to Central Connecticut’s 16.
FDU’s largest lead occurred in the second half when they were up by 13 points. The largest lead that they allowed their opponent was seven points in the first half.
The Knights were able to win the game despite losing Darian Anderson early on in the first half due to injury. Anderson was named the NEC player of the week twice this season and is the Knights most consistent scoring leader. Herenda had the following to say about Anderson’s injury:
“He hurt his back, his lower back but after the game I asked him to touch his toes and he touched his toes. I can’t even touch my toes so that was a good sign, so he’ll probably be day-to-day, but Darian’s a warrior. It’s ironic that he hurt his back because he’s put the team on his back for the first 24 games this season.”
Anderson is expected to play against Sacred Heart on Feb. 16. Meanwhile, without their star player in for the remainder of the game, another Knight stepped up and led the team in scoring. Potts Jr. led his team in field goals with 21 points setting his season high. Potts Jr. went 4-for-8 from the three-point line and also had a strong defensive performance leading his team in steals with four on the evening.
“Mike Schroback came off the bench and gave us a lift offensively; he made two big threes and Stephan Jiggetts was terrific today with 10 points and nine assists, so I think we’re obviously a good team because when Earl went out, we had to step up,” said Herenda.
Darnell Edge and Malik Miller trailed Potts Jr. in scoring amassing 13 points each. Edge finished with seven assists and one steal. Stephan Jiggetts who scored 10 points, led the Knights in assists with nine, narrowly escaping a double-double.
As a team, FDU out-shot CCSU 52.7 percent (29-55) compared to their opponent’s 43.9 percent (25-57). The Knights were also able to stay in control in the second half with their largest lead by 24 points 77-53 after a dunk by Potts Jr. in the paint.
Mustafa Jones of the Blue Devils lead his team in scoring, coming up with 15 points and two assists against FDU. Jones also made two steals in the strong defensive effort. Tidell Pierre also paced CCSU with an 11 point game and went 5-for-11 from the field.
The Knights, who earned a spot in the NEC Tournament for a second straight season, prepare for Mount St. Mary’s on Sat. Feb. 18. The contest is set at 4 p.m. at Stratis Arena.