Wagner sweep season series from LIU Brooklyn for second year straight

Wagner beats LIU Brooklyn for the second time this season sweeping the season series. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Wagner beats LIU Brooklyn for the second time this season sweeping the season series. (Photo: Bob Dea)

The hole was dug a little bit deeper for the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds Thursday night after losing for the second time this season to the Wagner Seahawks in a 75-68 loss. The loss puts LIU Brooklyn at 2-5 and has them in the eighth and final NEC Tournament spot in the standings.

The Blackbirds just couldn’t put together a string of stops on Wagner, who with the win improve to 4-3 in the conference, especially in the second half when LIU got as close as four on a couple of occasions before Wagner spread the lead back out to a comfortable margin.

“We were not sharp. It is not a great matchup for us.” said LIU head coach Jack Perri after the loss. “They had the ability to bother Jason (Brickman) and they did.”

Wagner forced LIU point guard Jason Brickman into seven turnovers to go along with his 13 assists. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Wagner forced LIU point guard Jason Brickman into seven turnovers to go along with his 13 assists. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Wagner in the past has given LIU’s point guard Jason Brickman a tough time and this game was no exception. In this game, although Brickman was able to dish out 13 assists to teammates, he also committed seven turnovers. In two games against Wagner this season, Brickman committed 13 turnovers while facing the two-time NEC Defensive Player of the Year in Wagner point guard Kenneth Ortiz. LIU as a whole gave the ball away 15 times in this game.

Wagner head coach Bashir Mason broke down the defensive strategy against the nation’s leading assist man. “One of our biggest things we talk about with (Brickman) is active hands.” said Mason. “When he’s in the paint, you can’t step up like the Statue of Liberty and allow him to see. As he is penetrating at you, you have to have active hands and one he is a pass-first guard. If he is jumping in the air, don’t jump until he releases the ball. I think my guys did a good job of getting hands on ball with him and just having active hands.”

The Seahawks finished with four players in double figures led by All-NEC performer Latif Rivers who scored a team-high 18 points on 12 field goal attempts. Wagner’s two forwards, Mario Moody and Orlando Parker each finished with 14 points a piece. Jay Harris in his return after missing Wagner’s last game versus Robert Morris with a head injury, scored 10 points including hitting a pair of three-pointers late in the game, the second of which put Wagner up by 13 with under four minutes to play that put the final nail in the LIU coffin.

Wagner shot the ball extremely well all game long and finished the game shooting just under 51% from the field. Wagner managed to score 1.12 points per possessions (75 pts/67 poss). They also outscored LIU 34-26 in the paint thanks to the performance of Moody and Parker.

It was obvious during the two games this season against Wagner, LIU had a problem matching up with their level of athleticism. “They are by far the most athletic team in the league and that absolutely bothers us and bothered Jason a little bit.” said Perri.

E.J. Reed finished with a team-high 18 points for the Blackbirds. (Photo: Bob Dea)

E.J. Reed finished with a team-high 18 points for the Blackbirds. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU got a game-high 18 points from sophomore E.J. Reed before fouling out for the sixth time this season. He now has scored at least 14 points in each of the last four games. Reed shot 7 of 9 from the floor although he was 3 of 7 from the charity stripe. Only he and Glenn Feidanga (2-3 from the field) shot above 50% from the floor in this game as LIU as a whole shot just 41% from the field although they shot the ball well from three going 10 of 19 from beyond the arc.

Troy Joseph finished with 12 points but was just 2 of 6 from the floor. Gerrell Martin scored 11 points but he was just 4 of 10 from the field. Landon Atterberry snapped his two-game double figure scoring streak with his 9 points on 4 of 10 shooting. Jason Brickman scored just 5 points on eight shots. The LIU bench was outscored by Wagner 30 to 13. Wagner also got seven blocks, five of those by the NEC’s leading shot blocker in Naofall Folahan. LIU finished with 0.98 points per possessions (68 pts/70 poss).

The Blackbirds are back in dire mode as they cling to that final NEC playoff spot and now have to travel back on the road to face a Mount St. Mary’s squad who LIU beat just last Saturday but are a much better home team than they are away from home. The Mount tonight came back and beat a good FDU team at home 87-82 in overtime. LIU played probably their best conference game so far against the Mount and they are going to need a similar performance on Saturday once again to avoid getting themselves in the NEC drop zone and out of the NEC Tournament picture. Right now, they are just a game in front of Central Connecticut and Sacred Heart although LIU for now has the tiebreaker over CCSU with their win over them.

They got to find some wins coming up which is not going to be easily given their opponents the next two games but things need to start turning around now. They are near halfway through the conference season and they are far from where they want to be which is a team hoping to compete for a NEC title. Right now, they got to just worry about just getting themselves involved in the playoff picture and they got to do that by playing better and getting a couple of upsets from here on out.

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