Opening night (or, morning in one case) has come and gone. And, with it, some interesting happenings.
A recap, women first ...
IONA 74, NAVY 64: The Gaels were picked to finish eighth in the coaches' preseason poll, but will probably finish higher if they can match this effort. Damika Martinez, who became the first freshman ever to lead the conference in scoring last season, picked up right where she left off with 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting.
FLORIDA 61, FAIRFIELD 49: The Stags stayed relatively close against a high-major program, and the good news is that 6-foot-1 junior forward Brittany Obi-Tabot, who averaged 3.8 minutes per game a year ago, had a team-high 14 points.
RIDER 62, STONY BROOK 50: A program that seems on the rise got off to a nice start. Sironda Chambers, a senior guard who missed the second semester last season, had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
MARIST 66, VERMONT 45: The Red Foxes actually trailed by seven at halftime, but opened the second half with an 18-0 run that was expanded to a 29-2 burst to put things away. Sophomore Vanderbilt transfer 6-3 center Tori Jarosz came off the bench to score 14 points in 18 minutes. In a typical Marist balanced attack, 10 players scored.
HARTFORD 64, LOYOLA 50: The Greyhounds are picked in the coaches' poll to finish third, but they'll need more than two offensive weapons to fulfill that expectation. Preseason Player of the Year Katie Sheahin had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals and sophomore teammate Kara Marshall added 14 points. No other
team member had more than five.
CANISIUS 73, BUFFALO 59: Senior swinperson Ashley Wilkes had 12 points and 13 rebounds and four players scored between 10 and 12 points for the Golden Griffins.
NIAGARA 63, ROBERT MORRIS 59: Senior forward Jessica Flamm, who only averaged 2.1 points per game a year ago, led the way for the Purple Eagles with 14 points and 6 rebounds.
SIENA 76, FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON: Siena got its first season-opening win in nine years, but FDU isn't exactly a powerhouse (picked for 10th in the NEC), and past Siena openers included two against Maryland, one when it won the national championship. A healthy, deep roster enabled first-year coach Ali Jaques to use nine players for at least 11 minutes each, and senior forward Lily Grenci, a strong post-season Player of the Year candidate, had 19 points and 12 rebounds.
AS FOR THE MEN ...
RIDER 79, ROBERT MORRIS 54: A double dose of successful debuts. New head coach Kevin Baggett, previously a Broncs' assistant, got a victory in his first game as program director. And, guard Nurideen Lindsey, a highly touted transfer from St. John's, gave a glimpse of what all the hype is about with 26 points and five assists.
SAINT PETER'S 56, RUTGERS 52: Arguably the biggest opening-night surprise. Saint Peter's played like anything but a team picked for 10th in the coaches' preseason poll, upsetting the Scarlet Knights, and rallying from a seven-point second-half deficit. Newcomer Desi Washington (transfer from Delaware State) led the way for the Peacocks with 18 points, while teammates Markese Tucker had 11 and Darius Conley had 10.
LOYOLA 71, BINGHAMTON 45: The Greyhounds got off to a good start against a team directed by former Rider coach Tommy Dempsey. Junior guard Dylon Cormier had a game-high 21 points while preseason Player of the Year pick Erik Etherly, a senior forward, had 11 points and rebounds.
OREGON STATE 102, NIAGARA 82: A little undersized in the paint for now, Niagara was outrebounded 52-37. Junior guard Marvin Jordan led the scoring for the Purple Eagles with 17, while 6-8 freshman forward T.J. Cline had a nice debut with 11 points and 7 rebounds off the bench.
IONA 65, DENVER 58: It wasn't the high point total that Gael fans got used to last season, but it was still a nice season-opening victory. Senior guard Momo Jones played the full 40 minutes as point guard and had 20 points and 7 assists. Backcourt mate Sean Armand, arguably the best perimeter shooter in the conference, added 19 on 8-of-11 shooting.
STONY BROOK 60, MARIST 57: The Red Foxes were down by 12 late in the first half and got close enough at the end to be in position to tie it had Devin Price's open 3-pointer with just seconds remaining gone down. One encouraging note: Junior center Adam Kemp, who was recovering from an off-season foot injury, had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard T.J. Curry got the start at point guard and had seven points and eight assists in 29 minutes.
VERMONT 53, SIENA 52. The America East's predicted top team rallied from a 20-4 early deficit, getting the game-winning basket on guard Sandro Carissimo's drive to the basket that split two interior Siena defenders. The Saints had a chance to win, but an errant pass meant for senior forward O.D. Anosike didn't connect. Anosike looked like he intends to lead the nation in rebounding again (he had 17 boards), but also looked like his career-long woes at the foul line (2-of-11) will continue.