This was March Madness of a different kind.
A Fighting broke out in the stands Late Tuesday night in the NEC tournament title game in Smithfield, RI — and that was just part of what made it an ugly night for Wagner. There was also a brawl on the court.
The Seahawks were 30 points down late in the first half and the night didn’t get any better. Not only did they again miss out on making the NCAA tournament after being thoroughly outplayed by top seed Bryant in a 70-43 loss, but the loss also involved an ugly battle between fans of the teams behind the Wagner Bench late in the second half.
Seahawks guard Will Martinez, trying to get to the melee, was ejected. After a 30-minute delay, the game resumed and finished without incident. With 2.6 seconds left, the officials stopped the game and allowed the Wagner contingent to leave the floor before Bryant fans stormed the court.
“I don’t even know what happened, I just wanted to get the game back on track,” said Bryant coach Jared Grasso, Iona’s former assistant head coach. “Unfortunate incident. I don’t know how it started, why it started, what happened. … Luckily we could [finish the game].”
For the third time since 2016, Wagner advanced to the final only to fail. After all, this was not as painful as the previous two defeats, which were decided with a total of 18 points.
The second-seeded Seahawks (21-6) trailed 36-6 at one point in the first half and were trailing 38-12 at halftime. Coach Bashir Mason changed the color of his jersey, which he wears in honor of injured senior Elijah Ford, but that didn’t work. His team came closest at 21.
It was a nightmare night for two-time NEC Player of the Year Alex Morales, who scored three points in 0-for-16 shooting. The absence of Ford, who suffered his cruciate ligament rupture in early February, was a factor. Not just in that game, but late in the regular season when Wagner lost home field advantage to top seed Bryant. It was a bitter end for the Seahawks’ six seniors, who went 34-13 the last two seasons and won an NEC regular-season title a year ago.
“This senior group that we had was a special, special group,” Mason said. “These guys have done a lot for the program.”
Peter Kiss scored 34 for Bryant (22-9), who is going to the NCAA tournament for the first time. A good chunk of the animated New Yorker’s first-half baskets were followed by taunts or gestures to the crowd. Wagner couldn’t stop him.
“He’s player of the year. He’s the best player in the league, he’s the most dominant player in the league,” said Grasso. “It was shown tonight.”
With 4:37 left and Bryant 36 points clear, fighting broke out. Drinks and bottles flew around. Punches were thrown. The game was canceled. The teams went back to their respective locker rooms and play resumed a half-hour late. A group of fans behind the Wagner Bank was kicked out.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/08/wagner-topped-by-bryant-in-nec-title-game-marred-by-fan-brawl/ Wagner is outclassed by Bryant in the NEC title game marred by a fan brawl