LIU Brooklyn sneaks by CCSU for first NEC win of season

In what was a desperation game between two winless NEC teams who are at the bottom of the conference standings, LIU Brooklyn and Central Connecticut State had to fight tooth and nail to get that elusive first NEC win of the season. Fortunately for the Blackbirds, a Gerrell Martin layup with :39 remaining was the difference as LIU Brooklyn was able to get that all-important first NEC win at CCSU Saturday afternoon, escaping with a 62-61 win over the Blue Devils.

LIU Brooklyn break their three-game NEC losing streak and goes to 1-3 as CCSU fall to 0-4 with all four losses for the Blue Devils coming at home.

It was a back and forth affair all game long as both teams seemed to go on healthy runs on one another. At times also, it wasn’t the prettiest game to watch with some of the bad shot selection and ugly turnovers both teams were committing.

The game started out tight through the first four and half minutes before CCSU had the first big run of the game with a 8-0 run to take a 19-11 lead. LIU would soon enough get back in it and eventually take a brief three-point lead at 30-27 until CCSU’s Malcolm McMillian hit three straight threes to give CCSU a four-point lead. A Landon Atterberry layup off a set play closed the half at 38-36 to CCSU.

A 10-0 early second half run for LIU would give them a 49-42 lead. LIU’s Jason Brickman scored the last half of those points in the run. LIU would keep control for most of the half. With 4:32 to go, CCSU would make one last run with an 8-0 run to retake the lead at 60-58 with 2:40 remaining.

Then junior Gerrell Martin began showing the leadership that LIU head coach Jack Perri has noticed Martin in him. Martin scored on a layup inside to tie the game at 60 with 1:49 left. McMillian would get fouled on a three-point attempt but would miss the first two before hitting the third to give CCSU a 61-60 lead.

Then once again, it was Martin who got the ball in the corner, drove to the hoop and got a wild-looking layup to fall to give LIU back a one-point lead with 39 seconds to go. CCSU’s Terrell Allen would then miss a corner three that was halfway down and rimmed out and Brickman would grabbed the rebound and get fouled with 11 seconds left. With LIU in a one and one, the normally clutch end-game free throw shooter, Brickman would miss the front end and CCSU would get the ball for one final chance. Brandon Peel would get the ball and shoot a three from the top of the key but shot it long and LIU survived with the win.

One thing you noticed at the end of the game, LIU Brooklyn didn’t do any wild or demonstrative celebrating at such a close and desperate needed win. There was no high fives, no flying chest bumps. It looked like this team had a collective sigh of relief that they didn’t blow this game and was able to get the losing monkey off their backs as they shook the Blue Devils hands at the end.

For CCSU, Malcolm McMillian had a perfect shooting game going 9 for 9 and 4 for 4 from three to finish with a game-high 23 points. Faronte Drakeford finished with 10 points. Brandon Peel, Khalen Cumberlander and Matt Mobley combined to score twenty points. LIU held them to 0.85 ppp (72 possessions), a season’s best for the Blackbirds.

LIU got a game-high 14 points from Gerrell Martin in 35 minutes. It looks like Martin is fully recovered from the sprained ankle he suffered last week. Jason Brickman finished with 13 points and 6 assists and was 4 of 7 from three. E.J. Reed and Landon Atterberry both had rather quiet scoring games as they went a combined 5 for 19 and scored a combined 11 points in a game in which neither player for once were in foul trouble. Troy Joseph and D.J. Griggs both finished with eight points each. Griggs has picked up his play of late as he has gotten more playing time with all the various injuries.

Gilbert Parga played just one minute in this game after playing three minutes on Thursday. Parga once again tried to go and once again just couldn’t do it with his bad achilles. Injuries has really hampered the redshirt junior’s season and has taken away another potential scorer for LIU.

LIU needed this win in the worst way to start building back up their confidence and gain some momentum for this next quarter of the season. After their next game, another tough one at Bryant on Thursday, LIU will play four of the following five games back at the Steinberg Wellness Center. This win was big because it gets them off the bottom of the standings and keeps them in striking distance of a top four seed. Here are the up-to-date NEC standings after week two:

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LIU needed to get the ball rolling and that all that mattered with this one-point win. There aren’t any gimme games coming up for the Blackbirds in the next three weeks. The pivotal part of the season is approaching so they need to build on this win and get healthier and get better as Jack Perri has preached over the last couple of weeks. There is time to turn the season around from the poor start but it is going to take a collective effort from this team to make it happen.

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