It was expected to be a easy win for the Hoosiers. A tune-up game, as you will, with bigger games and bigger opponents coming up in the near future for mighty Indiana. But nobody told Jack Perri’s team that. More accurately, LIU didn’t care what Hoosier nation wanted to see at a sold-out Assembly Hall in Bloomington tonight. LIU Brooklyn was hungry for the signature win that has eluded them through three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. They had played the North Carolinas, the Michigan States, the Kentuckys and have come out of the losing end each time. The Blackbirds wanted to finally change all that against Indiana. They were one Jason Brickman heave away from making that happen.
LIU Brooklyn gave an amazing effort against the 23rd-ranked Hoosiers but came up one point short of the biggest wins in LIU Brooklyn history, falling short 73-72.
“I’m really proud of my team.” said LIU head coach Jack Perri after the loss. “I didn’t quite know what to expect from our guys because we have a lot of new players, but they really competed and stuck to the game plan. I was proud of how they fought and I thought we did a tremendous job competing for 40 minutes.”
There was early jitters to start the game as both team kept firing away threes. Although Indiana got up 10-4 to start, the Blackbirds would go on a 14-0 run to take an 18-10 lead midway through the first half. Gilbert Parga and Troy Joseph were the first half catalysts for LIU. Parga had 12 and Joseph had 6 on a pair of threes. The Blackbirds would hold off a late Hoosier charge to take a 36-33 lead into the locker room. The Hoosiers ended the first half shooting just 27.5% including 1-16 from downtown.
The second half saw Indiana going to the basket instead of settling for long range jumpers as they went inside on their first three possessions and got three straight layups and quickly tied the game up at 41. It was game on from there. The game would be either tied or change hands 15 times from that point on.
Troy Joseph was sensation from deep in this game, scoring a team-high 16 points on 4-7 shooting from deep. Gilbert Parga had a nice game as well but he missed two crucial free throws with 9:40 to go that with the game tied at 55 that sent every Blackbird fan looking at the heavens including LIU head coach Jack Perri. E.J. Reed also had a strong game with 15 points including a sensational put back dunk that has to be on ESPN SportCenter’s Top 10 Plays tonight and tomorrow.
Once again though, it was Jason Brickman who showed his poise and leadership throughout this game and commanded the LIU offense and had the Blackbirds in position for a major upset.
LIU showed tremendous fight once Indiana got back the lead. Joseph made two gigantic three pointers which either tied or game LIU back the lead. Threes by both Reed and Parga gave LIU back the lead at 70-67 which just over three minutes left.
But it was IU senior Will Sheehey who would not left Indiana lose. “I think he was a big, big part of the reason they won.” said Perri of Sheehey. He kept hitting big shot after big shot in the second half after a miserable first half shooting. Sheehey finished with a game-high 19 points. A Sheehey three with 1:55 remaining put the Hoosier up 73-70. Jason Brickman then drew a foul on Indiana and knocked down two big free throws to get within one with 1:27 left.
Indiana would miss three chances at increasing the lead on their next possession before LIU got possession with a chance to pull off the major upset. Jason Brickman would then nearly turn the ball over as he was surrounded by Hoosiers but great awareness by LIU head coach Jack Perri to call a timeout to save the possession.
With :15 remaining, Brickman would get the ball, drive to the basket and miss the running layup. Landon Atterberry would get the offensive rebound but couldn’t convert and Indiana grabbed the rebound and was fouled to send them to the line for a one-and-one. IU freshman Devin Davis would miss the front end and Brickman would get the ball and heave up a running three as time expired. The shot looked on line but it feel about a foot short of the rim and Indiana escaped with a one-point victory at home.
Brickman still had another great game. He finished with his second straight double-double, 11 points and 11 assists. He also grabbed five rebounds in the loss. “Jason Brickman is a superstar.” said Perri. “He is a big-time player and there is no one in the country you want to have the ball other than Jason Brickman. He makes the right play 95 percent of the time. He got some looks. He just didn’t make the shot. That last attempt was a hard shot to make…I told them in that situation that if he made both and we were down three, we had a play in place with five second to go. If he missed, you just have to try and get it out, and you have three or four seconds left to make a play. We ran it out and we had Brickman there, but unfortunately the ball fell short.”
It was a great effort by the Blackbirds all game long. Indiana size gave LIU trouble as the Blackbirds’ front court guys were in foul trouble all game long but to their credit, no LIU player fouled out of this one. Reed, Atterberry and Glenn Feidanga each finished with 4 fouls.
Jason Brickman frustrated Indiana’s point guard Yogi Ferrell all game long. Ferrell finished with 17 points but he was clearly frustrated by some of whistles not going his way and by the way the game was going. At one point as he was coming out of the game, he slammed his hand on the scoring table right behind his head coach Tom Crean.
LIU held Indiana to 38% shooting for the game and 7 of 26 from three. LIU Brooklyn shot 41.8% from the field and was 7 of 21 from downtown. They finished 19 of 27 from the free throw line in a one-point game. LIU had 77 possessions in this game and gave up 72 possessions to Indiana. LIU scored 0.94 points per possession and gave up 1.01 ppp.
It will be a tough loss for LIU to stomach since they were all so close to the win but LIU should hang there heads up high after displaying an amazing effort on the road to one of the country’s power house teams. Perri’s game plan to have the Hoosiers shot from outside nearly got them the victory. “After watching their film, I thought our best chance was to force them to shoot the three and crowd the paint.” said Perri. “Their first game they shot 55 free throws, and their players are so athletic and long that we thought we needed to force them to make shots. We did a really good job of that the first half playing man-to-man. In the beginning of the second half, they were getting to the basket a little too easy, so we switched up and went to a zone and I thought that worked well for a while too. In the end, they got some open looks but that’s what we wanted. We wanted them to shoot threes.”
Unfortunately, the Hoosiers made enough shots tonight to steal the win away from LIU. Now the Blackbirds will have now have to endure ten tough days before they can get back on the court to erase the sour taste of this tough, close loss. It doesn’t get any easier for LIU with them next having to go out west to play three games in a 43-hour span. They have some tough games ahead with UC-Irvine, Eastern Washington and Boston University next up on the schedule out west. LIU should at least take pride of themselves for giving the Hoosiers a major scare. Soon enough, LIU will get that marquee win that has still eluded them. It is getting closer but no breakthrough yet. The hunger for that victory continues on.