Twenty seconds remaining. Game tied at 72. Norfolk State has the ball looking for a big road win and looking to ruin LIU Brooklyn’s Steinberg Wellness Center opener.
But this would happen:
A tremendous block by Troy Joseph sprung a final fast break with five seconds remaining and the ball gets in the hands of LIU super point guard Jason Brickman. The same Jason Brickman who faced a similar situation nearly three weeks ago where in the final seconds versus Indiana and the ball in his hands, he took the shot and came up short. This time, Brickman had an open teammate with him on a two-on-one break with just a couple of seconds remaining. What does the nation leading assist man do? Of course, he drops the pass to Gerrell Martin on the run and Martin lays it up and in at the buzzer to give LIU Brooklyn a huge come-from-behind 74-72 win Sunday afternoon.
LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri knew once Jason Brickman got the ball in hands at that spot, he has no hesitation in letting his senior point guard make the winning decision. “Once Brickman got the ball, I looked up and saw five seconds, I was like alright, he is making a play. I don’t want the ball in anybody else’s hands.”
Brickman rewarded Perri’s trust in him by giving the ball to the streaking Gerrell Martin at the perfect time for the winning score. “Before E.J. (Reed) got to (the rebound), I looked up at the clock real quick and saw five seconds running down.” said Brickman of the game-winning play. “We always practice, at the end of practice, situations either five seconds or three seconds. I knew I could get up the court real quick and I just saw Gerrell running the wing so I feed him for the layup.”
Since it was a buzzer-beater, the officials had to check the replay to confirm the basket was good and LIU had won but there was no doubt in Gerrell Martin’s mind. “It was good.” said Martin. “I noticed (the clock) when I was up there and it left my hands just before the buzzer so I knew was good.”
The Blackbirds wouldn’t have had a chance of pulling out some buzzer-beating heroics if it wasn’t a couple of big-time plays made by two players in particular, Troy Joseph and Landon Atterberry.
NSU’s Anell Alexis hit a pair of three with under four minutes remaining to give them a six-point lead with 2:04 remaining. LIU was still down by six with 1:41 to go when Joseph, who made his second consecutive start, hit a big three in the corner to get LIU within three. Then, Atterberry would come up huge with a couple of big offensive rebounds, a made free throw and a crucial layup with 23 seconds remaining to tie it at 70 to give LIU a chance at the end.
Atterberry, who at 6’6″ has had to play mostly at the 5 position this season, guarding bigger players, has held his own through this early part of this season but Jack Perri wanted more. “I challenged him before the game.” said Perri of Atterberry. “I don’t think he played to his potential. Again, he is out-sized. He is not a 5-man. He is playing out of position because of what we have this year right now. It is what it is. He is going to have to be that. He is going have to be a tough competitor on the offensive glass and the defensive glass. I think he is athletic enough and I think he has some quickness to him to be able to do that and he is going to have to play bigger than he is and he was great. I’m really happy with the way he stepped his game up.”
LIU Brooklyn finished with five players in double figures led by Martin’s 16 points. Atterberry had 15 points and six rebounds. E.J. Reed had 13 points and four rebounds. Joseph had 12 points on 4 of 7 three-point shooting. Jason Brickman finished with his third double-double of the season, 10 points and a season-high tying 14 assists. He is now just 25 assists away from breaking the NEC career-assists record. Gilbert Parga didn’t play in this game after lacerating his elbow early last week in practice and is out seven to ten days but isn’t expected to miss any more games from this injury.
Norfolk State got a game-high 21 points from Malcolm Hawkins. Brandon Goode had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the now 5-3 Spartans.
LIU with the win break their four-game losing streak and are now push their record up to 2-4. A couple of streaks LIU couldn’t break with this win though was the Blackbirds getting out-rebounded every game this season as they lost that battle 35-32. Also, LIU allowed NSU to score 1.14 points per possession. Every team this season has scored over 1.0 ppp this season against LIU. The Blackbirds did score 1.18 ppp to go above 1.0 ppp for just the second time this season.
After this brief return back to Brooklyn, the Blackbirds hit the road again on a three-game Newark-PA-Newark road swing as they head to Newark’s Prudential Center to take on Seton Hall, who lost to FDU on Sunday so don’t look for a pleasant Pirates team on Thursday, then to Pennsylvania to take on Lehigh before playing in Newark again against NJIT.
It was a much-needed win for LIU Brooklyn especially after the brutal California road trip last weekend. The Blackbirds showed a lot of fight and a lot of hustle in this game. Guys were determined to fight for rebounds and dive on the court for 50/50 balls. It was something Perri said after the game was lacking out in California and he was happy to see them play with some toughness, grit and determination. Hopefully, this play can carry on back on the road and allow them to get their first road win of the season.