Bryant coach Tim O’Shea was an interested observer Wednesday night when Boston College shocked No. 1-ranked Syracuse, and not just because he once suited up for the Eagles. If O’Shea needed any type of a teaching tool to impress to his players the importance of taking care of each and every game, his alma mater provided one. Those warnings came in handy heading into Thursday night’s Northeast Conference game against Fairleigh Dickinson, but still couldn’t prevent a major step backwards for the Bulldogs. FDU, a team Bryant thumped, 95-68, on Jan. 18, returned the favor by making all the big shots and pulling a 63-52 upset before a stunned crowd of 1,096 at the Chace Athletic Center. The Knights, who had lost five straight games, canned an eye-popping 13 threes, including two off the glass in the second half. FDU is now 9-17 overall and 5-7 in the NEC. Bryant appeared discombobulated from almost the opening tip. While its defense couldn’t slow FDU’s deep shooting, the offense was worse. The Bulldogs finished the game shooting 29 percent, and bottomed out in the second half with just five field goals and 18 points on 17 percent shooting. “They played exceptionally well and made a lot of shots. They deserved to win the game,” said O’Shea. The coach spent plenty of time warning his players that they have no easy games in the final two weeks of what has been a very competitive NEC. He insisted his players did not take the Knights lightly. “The NEC is like any other conference,” he said. “We feel it’s a very tough, competitive conference. FDU has some good (Seton Hall, Rutgers) wins and is well-coached. In our game down there we just made every shot and had a great night.” The loss is damaging for Bryant as it tries to nail down a top-four finish and secure at least one home game in the upcoming NEC Tournament. Bryant falls to 16-11 overall and 8-4 in the league, tied with Wagner for second place, but both St. Francis of Brooklyn and Mount St. Mary’s are only one game behind at 7-5. But Bryant faces the toughest finishing schedule in the conference, by far. After a snowstorm forced the postponement of a game at Mount St. Mary’s last week, the Bulldogs will host Central Connecticut in their home finale Saturday and then face three straight games on the road next week. “In the NEC seeding is huge,” O’Shea said. “The top four teams host a first-round game, and obviously we’d like to host two games if at all possible. Finishing with three road games makes that a challenge.” If Bryant looked like a team a bit out of sorts, it had reason to. Thanks to the snow cancellation of the game at Mount St. Mary’s, the Bulldogs had played only once in the last 12 days. It lost that contest at Wagner, reducing its hold on second place. The Dogs haven’t won a game since Feb. 8. “We had some real momentum going to Mount St. Mary’s and then we hung out at the hotel for five days and never played,” O’Shea said.
Fairleigh Dickinson 63, Bryant 52: Upset loss hurts hopes for top-4 finish in NEC
Providence Journal | Feb 21