For fifteen minutes, it was a game. LIU Brooklyn was hanging with the Seton Hall Pirates, down just six. The final five minutes of the first half was five minutes to forget for Jack Perri’s Blackbirds. The Pirates would go on a closing 20-9 run to break the game open and hold off a second half charge by the Blackbirds to beat LIU Brooklyn at the Prudential Center Thursday night 92-81.
The majority of the damage was done by Seton Hall’s Brian Oliver. The redshirt senior went off for eight three-pointers off the bench including five three-pointers in the final 6:20 of the first half to finish with a game-high 26 points on 17 shots, all from three. At one point, Oliver and LIU’s Jason Brickman seem to go three-pointer for three-pointer and whenever any Blackbird hit a three, Oliver would quickly respond with a three of his own. “Obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job on Oliver.” said Perri after the game. “We talked about him just being a shooter, that is all he does. We had some guys that did a poor job of contesting him early in the game, even the ones that he missed early, I don’t think we contested well enough. So we came up small in him.”
Once again, the Blackbirds had issues with their opponent’s superior size. It gave LIU fits especially in the first half. LIU front court starters, Landon Atterberry and E.J. Reed were hampered by foul trouble in the crucial first half. Each played only seven minutes as Reed picked up two fouls while Atterberry got hit with three personals. Perri took a chance putting Atterberry back in the game late in the first half with two fouls but quickly got his third against the bigger, stronger Seton Hall front line. Going into this game, Perri knew his guys were in for a big challenge against the wide-body Gene Teague who finished with a double-double, 17 points and 16 rebounds. “The Teague stuff doesn’t bother me as much because he is a man-child.” said Perri. “He out-weighs our guys by a good 30 or 40 pounds. I thought Landon tried. He was competing but (Teague) was just better and bigger and stronger.”
LIU point guard Jason Brickman tired to keep LIU afloat in the first half. It looks like he shooting touch is returning after a shaky start shooting to begin the season. Brickman scored 15 of his career-high tying 19 points in the first half. He knocked down three three’s in the first half to keep LIU in striking distance before the deciding final five minutes of the first half came along. Perri said of Brickman, “I think the way they played him, he played the defense the right way and he was able to be a little bit more aggressive. I didn’t think they would able to contain him off the dribble and that was true to form. I thought he was able to get by them in the half court and he was able to create for himself and create for others.”
A nice surprise for LIU to come out of the first half foul trouble was the play of junior college transfer Chris Carter. Pressed into action with Reed and Atterberry out, Carter scored 10 of his career-high 12 points in that first half. He played a solid 11 minutes in the first and gave LIU some desperately needed production out of the front court when things were starting to look bleak.
The Blackbirds played a strong second half, outscoring the Pirates 45-39 but the Pirates lived off the 17-point half time cushion that Oliver had given them. LIU never got closer than nine points in the second half.
Along with the big games they got from Oliver and Teague, Seton Hall got 16 points from point guard Sterling Gibbs and 14 points from Brandon Mobley. Senior Fuquan Edwin sprained his ankle a minute into the game. He left the game and did not return. He is expected to miss about a week or two of action according to Seton Hall’s head coach Kevin Willard.
Along with Brickman’s 19 points, he also dished out nine assists and is now 15 assists away from becoming the NEC’s career all-time assist leader surpassing the 804 career assists of Marist’s Drafton Davis. His total is at 790.
LIU had five players finish in double figures led by Brickman’s 19 points. E.J. Reed with a strong second half finished with his first double-double of the season, 15 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out for the second time this season. Landon Atterberry who had a tough game having to deal with the much bigger Gene Teague ended up with 11 points but had zero rebounds. Gerrell Martin scored 10 points but was just 3 of 10 from the field. Troy Joseph had a very quiet game with just 2 points and 4 rebounds in 32 minutes. D.J. Griggs and Glenn Feidanga had six points each. Gilbert Parga for the second consecutive game did not play due to the lacerated elbow he suffered in practice last week that has him out for seven to ten days. Hopefully, he will be ready to go for LIU’s next game.
Once again, not surprisingly in this contest, LIU was out-rebounded but by just one, 35-34. The Blackbirds got back to playing LIU offense scoring a season-high 81 points and getting 1.16 points per possessions (70 possessions) but gave up a second-worst season high 1.35 ppp on defense. Oddly, LIU shot a better percentage across the board over Seton Hall but the 14 three-pointers the Pirates made was the big difference in this game.
LIU Brooklyn will now continue on their Newark-PA-Newark road trip with a visit to Bethlehem, PA to take on Lehigh of the Patriot League on Monday night. The Blackbirds will need to quickly put this foul-plagued, three-point assault behind them and focus on the positives which was the team’s second half of this game along with Brickman’s and Carter’s good first half and see if they can put something together in the next few games.