Career night from Sacred Heart’s Louis Montes holds off 8-man LIU Brooklyn in NEC opener

The four LIU Brooklyn suspended players sitting it out. (L to R: Julian Boyd, Troy Joseph, C.J. Garner, Jamal Olasewere) Credit: Bob Dea

The four LIU Brooklyn suspended players sitting it out. L to R: Julian Boyd, Troy Joseph, C.J. Garner, Jamal Olasewere (Photo Credit: Bob Dea)

Box Score

Game Highlights

#20 Booker Hucks getting two of his career-high 20 points. (Photo Credit: Bob Dea)

#20 Booker Hucks getting two of his career-high 20 points. (Photo Credit: Bob Dea)

Courageous. Gutty. Relentless. All adjectives that would describe the way an under-manned LIU Brooklyn team play Thursday night at the Pitt Center at Sacred Heart. But yet, it just wasn’t enough as Sacred Heart got a career game from junior Louis Montes to beat 8-man LIU Brooklyn 77-73.

LIU Brooklyn who were without Jamal Olasewere, C.J. Garner and Troy Joseph as they served the first of their two-game suspensions that was imposed on them by the university in the wake of the assault arrests after a school party back in September. LIU started sophomore Gerrell Martin and freshman E.J. Reed in place of the two starting seniors. But it was one of the three bench players who had a career night himself for LIU. Booker Hucks scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds for the Blackbirds in the loss. LIU Brooklyn head coach praised Hucks for his step-up effort after the game. “He played well early and then you could see the fatigue set in because he’s not used to playing this many minutes (career-high 25 mins). I could see it in his eyes that he was exhausted. He did as well as he could. He really competed I thought and made some plays for us so I was happy for him that he was able to do that.”

#11 Jason Brickman driving by #4 Phil Gaetano. Brickman one assist-shy of another dbl-dbl. (Phot Credit: Bob Dea)

#15 Jason Brickman driving by #4 Phil Gaetano. Brickman one assist-shy of another dbl-dbl. (Phot Credit: Bob Dea)

Jason Brickman played the role of leader and floor general as good as anyone could possible be. It is a shame he and his team weren’t rewarded with a win to show for their efforts. Brickman finished with 11 points, 9 assists and 0 turnovers in 39 minutes. LIU had four players scored in double-digits. Along with Brickman and Hucks, Brandon Thompson had 13 and EJ Reed had 14 for the second straight game.

Unfortunately for the Blackbirds, they ran into a buzz saw in Montes. His previous career-high was 28 which he got last season. Not only did he come up big on the offensive end going 13 for 17 but he had two critical blocks in the final thirty seconds of the game, one on Brickman as he was attempting a layup with 30 seconds left that would have cut SHU’s lead to one and another on Reed after he got an offensive board on a missed three by Thompson. Then for good measure, he sunk the two nail-in-the-coffin free throws to provide the final margin of victory. “He is a tough kid.” said Jack Perri of Montes. “It ended up being too much of (Montes), he did a great job. He is a talented kid. Give the kid credit, he was tremendous today.” Along with Montes’ career night, Shane Gibson and Steve Glowiak scored 13 and Phil Gaetano had 10 assists.

#12 Louis Montes get a big block on Jason Brickman in the final minute. (Photo Credit: Bob Dea)

#12 Louis Montes get a big block on Jason Brickman in the final minute. (Photo Credit: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn in the second-half would find themselves down by as much as 17 after SHU starting the half on a 15-5 run. LIU could have easily waved the white flag but then Perri changed it up defensively. First, he went 2-3 zone from man-to-man and then starting pressing. Sacred Heart began turning the ball over and missing shots and LIU creeped back in and eventually tied it at 59 with 6:34 remaining. It went back and forth before Montes came up huge with his heroics. “Our guys keep our poise really well and we ended up getting some good things.” said Perri. “I thought E.J. (Reed) played well in the second-half. (Jason) Brickman was phenomenal. He should have had 15 assists and he was picking up full-court. He used up a lot of energy.”

Freshman D.J. Griggs working on the defensive end (Photo Credit: Bob Dea)

Freshman D.J. Griggs working on the defensive end (Photo Credit: Bob Dea)

After LIU was down by 17, Perri went with the lineup of Brickman, Thompson, Hucks and the two freshman, Reed and D.J. Griggs who played his best total game as a Blackbird. They lead the comeback and Perri stayed with them the rest of the game. “We found a unit that was working. We were having some trouble with our front court guys, Kenny (Onyechi) and Khalil (Murphy) struggled catching the ball today. They had some turnovers so we went a little bit smaller and had E.J. (Reed) at the 5 and Booker (Hucks) at the 4 and that lineup kind of gave us some energy. We put D.J. Griggs into the game and he did a good job defensively and gave us some energy.”

LIU shot 43.1% (23-51) from the floor while Sacred Heart were able to shoot 53.7% (29-54). Both teams scored over 1.0 points per possession. LIU scored 73 in 69 possessions and Sacred Heart scored 77 in 68 possessions.

Obviously with Sacred Heart coming in losing seven-straight, LIU Brooklyn felt like this was a game they could come in and possibly steal given their short-handed status. “We thought we had a chance to win this game. We definitely thought. They have issues also with guys being out so we thought we matched up pretty well.” said Perri after the game. Unfortunately for the Blackbirds, they came up short in the final minute and that is now two-straight gut-wrenching games that LIU just couldn’t close out. Things won’t get any easier against Quinnipiac who presents a bigger front line and they will be coming in not too pleased after they dropped their NEC opener at home to St. Francis Brooklyn. “Quinnipiac is going to be tough.” remarked Perri as he begins to look ahead to that Saturday afternoon game. “Again only going having eight guys. We’ll see what happens against Quinnipiac.”

So for LIU, the losing-streak is now at four, matching the four-game losing streak that started the season. One more road game before they get back Olasewere, Garner and Joseph and head back to the Wellness Center next week. For one game anyway.

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