Wednesday , Mar , 08 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson meet for NEC title

(Sports Network) – The two teams that have won the last two Northeast
Conference titles will square off tonight in the Championship matchup, as the
top-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson Knights host the third-seeded Monmouth
Hawks. The Hawks were the NEC champs in 2004, while the Knights are one win
away from becoming the first team since Rider back in 1993-94 to win back-to-
back NEC titles. The Hawks finished the regular season with a solid 12-6
mark inside NEC action, entering the postseason as the third-seed. In the
quarterfinal round, Monmouth defeated Long Island, 74-63, and moved into
the semifinals where the Hawks upset second-seed Central Connecticut State,

As for the Knights, they were an impressive 14-4 in league action,
capturing the top-seed of the tournament. Fairleigh-Dickinson just
squeezed by Quinnipiac in the quarterfinal round, 66-65, and used a
more dominant victory over Robert Morris in the semifinals, defeating the
Colonials, 71-55. The Knights have an advantage playing on their
homecourt, where the team posted a solid 11-2 mark on the season. The Knights
defeated the Hawks in the season-finale to capture the top-seed in the
tournament, but in the all-time series, Monmouth holds a 31-25 lead over

Throughout the season Monmouth was never a force offensively, but the team’s
play at the other end of the court was a completely different story. The Hawks
finished the season as the top defensive team in the Northeast Conference,
surrendering 64.5 ppg. Monmouth continued its solid defensive play in the
tournament, holding Long Island to just 63 points in the quarterfinals, while
defeating Central Connecticut, 62-48, in the semifinals. In the win over
Central Connecticut, the Hawks held the Blue Devils to a mere 26.4 percent
shooting effort from the floor, which included an equally poor 6-of-29 clip
from long range. Offensively, the team was also solid, shooting 45.0 percent
from the floor, while connecting on 20-of-26 shots from the foul line. Chris
Kenny led the way with 19 points, while Dejan Delic added 12 points. John
Bunch came off the bench to contribute 10 points to go along with eight
rebounds and five blocks.

As for the Knights, they made their way through the season at the other end of
the floor, dominating opponents with their offensive play. FDU was the best
offensive team in the NEC this season, averaging 75.1 ppg, while shooting 46.0
percent from the floor. In the teams’s victory over Robert Morris in the
semifinal round, the Knights shot 47.2 percent from the field and connected on
16-of-21 shots from the charity stripe. Chad Timberlake poured in 20 points
and collected 11 points, while Andrea Crosariol also posted a double-double,
scoring 16 points to go along with 10 boards and six blocks. Gordon Klaiber
and Michael Peeples both added 14 points in the win. Timberlake has been solid
throughout the year for the Knights, scoring 15.5 ppg, while leading the squad
with 114 assists. Klaiber and Crosariol also made solid contributions during
the year, as Klaiber comes into the championship averaging 14.8 ppg, while
Crosariol is producing 11.3 ppg to go along with a team-high 6.7 rpg.