0-6. That is LIU Brooklyn’s record away from Brooklyn this season after the Blackbirds fall to the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh, 76-65, at the Stabler Arena on Monday night.
The Blackbirds had a hard time with the officials’ whistle in this game as they were called for 28 fouls in a game where the refs called 50 total fouls. Three LIU players (E.J. Reed, Glenn Feidanga and Gerrell Martin) fouled out of this game and another two (Landon Atterberry and Troy Joseph) ended the game with four fouls. The 28 fouls amounted to a season-high in a game for LIU Brooklyn.
The foul woes proved to be very costly as it further weakened the depth of already not-so-deep front court. The biggest culprit was sophomore E.J. Reed who picked up two fouls in a span of 35 seconds within the first three minutes of the game. Then to further dig himself and his team into a hole, he gets hit with a technical foul arguing the second foul which would end up finishing his first half. Three minutes and three fouls.
“I thought we had the right mentality coming out to start the game and we needed to have that on the road here but it translated into fouling.” said LIU head coach Jack Perri after the Blackbirds sixth-straight loss away from home. “E.J. Reed picked up two quick ones. I’m not sure why he got the technical foul but getting three real quick puts us in such a hole.”
Reed’s lack of discipline has been on full display this season. He has now fouled out for the second straight game and third time this season. He also has finished with four fouls in games twice. This is not a trend you want to continue to see out of a player that was supposed to be heavily counted on this season if LIU Brooklyn wants a chance at a four-peat in the NEC. Perri said of Reed lack of discipline this season, “He is still young. We knew this going in. He’s got to make better decisions. He is a kid that plays hard. It is such a focus of ours to try and play with discipline, not leave your feet, and go for blocks like he’s been doing. He just got to get better at it. Obviously, we can’t afford for him to do that. He is too important for us.”
Without Reed, Landon Atterberry had to pick up more of the scoring from the front court and he did a solid job with his season-tying high of 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting. Troy Joseph picked up the rebounding slack with a career-high 12 boards and with 8 points was two points shy of his first career double-double.
Once again with the LIU bigs in foul woes, Lehigh was able to have it way inside. Lehigh’s starting forwards Tim Kempton (15 points/10 rebounds) and Jesse Chuku (13 points/10 rebounds) got it done on the interior, each finishing with double-doubles. Lehigh also took advantage of LIU foul woes by getting to the free throw line 35 times (22 for 35). LIU in the second half already had their sixth team foul just 3:48 in.
In the end, LIU were just unable to make the big shot when they needed it. Although, Lehigh biggest lead was nine, it just felt like the Blackbirds couldn’t get a run going at the most crucial times. LIU held the lead twice and after both times, Lehigh quickly grabbed the lead back and go on a run to take control. The Blackbirds just couldn’t find a way to get over the hump. When they needed it most, they just couldn’t get the big shot to go down or would commit a costly turnover as Gilbert Parga did trying to get the ball inside to Atterberry with 19 seconds left and LIU down by four. “I think we just missed shots.” said Perri on the loss. “I think we had some open looks, we just missed some shots, some drives to the basket and things like that. I don’t think it was anything that (Lehigh) did.”
Gilbert Parga returned to the LIU lineup after missing the last two games with his lacerated elbow which he had bandaged and padded. He shot the ball well from field hitting 4 of 5 with his one miss coming from a deep three late in the game. He had a hard time from the free throw going 4 of 8 to finish with 13 points and 5 rebounds in his return.
Jason Brickman had a great first half. It looked he would have a record-breaking night after dishing out nine assists in the first half. He came into the game needing 15 assists to break the NEC all-time career assist record. In the second half, shots weren’t falling from Brickman’s passes including several from close range which slowed down Brickman’s assist production, giving him 12 assists for the night. He now needs 3 assists in the next game to get the record. Brickman did have another off shooting night, hitting just 2 of 9 shots to finish with ten points for his fifth double-double of the season.
Glenn Feidanga finished with a career-high ten points on eight shots although he missed a couple of layups inside. Gerrell Martin finished with eight points but was just 3 of 10 shooting.
Lehigh shot 47.2% in the game and kept LIU to just under 40% shooting. LIU were able finally able to out-rebound their opponent for the first time this season (39-36) and also held Lehigh (0.992 ppp; 77 possessions) to under 1.0 ppp which is also an LIU opponent first this season.
“We got to get better. We got to continue to get better, that is plain and simple.” said Perri on his team’s defensive effort overall this season. “We are not a good defensive team right now. We got to make sure we do a better job on the glass. Defend and rebound, that is all we talk about and right now we are not doing a good enough job.”
LIU will get another crack at ending their winless streak away from Brooklyn as they finish their current three-game road trip back in the city where it began last Thursday, Newark, to face an NJIT team who is 6-4 and will play Seton Hall Tuesday night before taking on the Blackbirds this Thursday. NJIT has already beaten NEC rival Central Connecticut at home this season. This will undoubtedly be another major challenge for the Blackbirds as they try to salvage a game for what is looking like another long road trip.