It was apparent from the opening tip when 6’6″ LIU Brooklyn forward E.J. Reed was at mid-court about to try and out-jump 7’6″ UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye that LIU was going to be facing a major uphill battle with the Anteaters size.
Well, it was barely a battle. It was a no contest as UC Irvine dominated LIU with its size and length and cruised to a 84-64 victory at the Bren Events Center at UC Irvine to open up the three games in three days for the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds.
UC Irvine shot 55% from the field against LIU as the Anteaters was able to get a ton of easy baskets at the rim. The Blackbirds allowed 1.25 points per possession (84 pts in 67 possessions) to the lengthy Anteaters as UCI pretty much scored at will. UCI dominated the glass on LIU 44-29, at times making it looks more like a volleyball game than a basketball game with the ease at times the Anteaters was getting to rebounds.
LIU had no answer for either one of UCI’s bigs. Will Davis II finished with 12 points and 8 rebounds. He only had to play 22 minutes in this one. LIU had absolutely no answer for the 7’6″ Ndiaye as the Anteaters would just lob the ball to him at the basket and he would slam it down without even having to jump with a Blackbird player on him looking like a small bug. It was silly at times watching either Landon Atterberry or E.J. Reed trying to guard the gigantic Ndiaye down low. He towered above everyone. Ndiaye finished with 12 points going a perfect 5 for 5 from the field and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes of play.
When Davis II or Ndiaye were out, UCI just kept bringing more bigs in and LIU just couldn’t keep their heads above water all night long. The Blackbirds struggled to get anything going against this great length of UCI and shot just 34% in the game.
A couple bright spots for LIU was the play of two junior college transfers, Landon Atterberry and Chris Carter. Atterberry started the game red hot, scoring LIU first nine points before ending up a career-high 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting. Carter got to see some playing time, most of it in the second half in with LIU down big but he took advantage of his opportunity and looked good getting after rebounds and shooting the ball with confidence. Carter finished with a early LIU career-high 9 points and 3 rebounds in 13 minutes.
The LIU guards as you could imagined struggled mightily facing the tall and long Anteaters. Gilbert Parga had 10 but 7 of those came from the free throw line. Gerrell Martin really struggled, going 2 for 12 and 0 for 5 from three to finish with 8 points. E.J. Reed had a tough game also with a 2 for 9 shooting night for 5 points. Jason Brickman couldn’t find the room or the passing lanes to work his game in this one, he finished with just 2 points yet was still able to dish out 6 assists on the night. One concern early on is Brickman’s shooting. He is now 8 of 24 (33%) from the floor and 1 of 10 (10%) from three to start the year. He did only play 26 minutes in this one to save his legs for this three games in three days stretch. In fact, with this game getting out of hand early, no LIU player played over 27 minutes against UCI.
The Blackbirds will have to quickly put this game behind them as they have a quick turnaround in facing the Eastern Washington Eagles at 6:30pm Saturday evening. EWU beat Boston U. before the LIU-UCI game 80-68. EWU is now 3-1 entering the matchup on Saturday as LIU fell to 1-2 to begin the season.