I have to start out this post by saying this, I didn’t watch this game live because my wife and I were out house hunting most of the day and I avoided checking my twitter feed on my iPhone and hitting the ESPN SportCenter app all day so I wouldn’t ruin the game for myself. After a long day, I finally sat down on the couch with my wife, popped open my laptop, went to NEC Front Row and hit play on the LIU Brooklyn-Mount St. Mary.
About two hours later, I wanted to throw my laptop out the freaking window.
I had just witnessed one of the most craziest endings to a basketball game I had seen involving LIU in quite a long time. Unfortunately, one team had to lose this shootout of a basketball game and unfortunately for Blackbirds fans, this was as heartbreaking a loss that we all might have witnessed in quite a while.
On a frantic finish that involved a last-minute comeback by LIU to tie the game, a three-pointer on the other end by the Mount with 0.3 seconds remaining to LIU actually hitting a half-court shot at the buzzer but the refs ruling the shot couldn’t count, this was as wild a game I have seen all season long resulting in a 95-92 loss at Mount St. Mary’s.
If somehow you missed the finale to this game, here it is for you: (Editor’s Note: I was going to use the Mount’s game highlights but they decided not to add the half-court shot so I decided it wasn’t worth posting.)
http://necfrontrow.com/fulleventvideo.php?MSM-1186 (Go to 132:15 mark with the game clock at 14.6 seconds, the wild finish begins then.)
How did it get to that point? Well, the Mount started the game unconscience from three. Their first six baskets were all from three pointers. The Mount would hit eleven first half threes against LIU zone defense. LIU for most of the game look like they were doing a layup line drill. LIU was getting layup after layup after layup all game long.
LIU scored 60 points in the paint. Mount St. Mary’s scored 49 points from three. LIU was 32 of 51 (62%) from two and the Mount were 16 of 29 (55%) from three. I can’t even keep up with all the insane numbers from this game.
The Blackbirds who have been struggling most of the season with getting offensive rebounds and taking advantage of second-chance points, put in 26 second-chances points off of 19 offensive rebounds compared to the Mount’s 13 second-chance points.
It was bombs away from the Mount’s big scorers Rashad Whack and Julian Norfleet. Whack finished with a game-high 26 points on 15 shots going 5 of 9 from three. Norfleet, who made several long NBA-range threes in this game, finished with 24 points on 13 shots missing just one of his three-point attempts. Of course the killer three, the game-winner, came from Sam Prescott who for the second straight game, hits a big three that either tied or won the game in the final second. That three was Prescott only made three of the game and only one of two baskets he made all game long. Gregory Graves off the bench got a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
LIU Brooklyn shot 54% from the floor in this game…and lost. That is tough to take for a Blackbird fan.
One player who loves to bring his A-game against Mount St. Mary’s is sophomore E.J. Reed. Reed finished with a season-high 24 points, one point shy of his career-high he set last season against Mount St. Mary’s. Troy Joseph got a career-high 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting including 3 of 5 from three. Freshman Iverson Fleming was brilliant for LIU. He finished with 18 and 9 of 10 on his two-point shots. He got to rim time after time on drives for layups all game long. Jason Brickman got his eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 assists.
This was a game that neither team played much defense. LIU scored 1.223 ppp (75 possessions) while the Mount scored 1.291 ppp (74 possessions). If you loved offense (which I do!), you loved this game. It took you back to the Blackbirds team of the last three seasons even if it resulted in a heartbreaking loss. It was nice to see LIU play run and gun, fast and loose. It was fun as well. But it was also frustrating to see when LIU needed to get just one big stop after tying the game, they give up a wide open three to Prescott that buried them.
One thing I noticed in this game, Jack Perri never changed up to man-to-man defense the whole game even though Mount St. Mary’s was burning hot from three. Not even for a few possessions just to give them a different look. LIU stayed in the zone and never went away from it. I thought it was odd that he didn’t even try to go man-to-man even ever so briefly. LIU is normally a man-to-man defensive team because of all the injuries to the front court has had to change themselves to a primary zone defensive team to protect his bigs from getting into foul trouble. The zone has curbed the foul woes between the LIU bigs but teams with shooters like the Mount and Wagner have had a field day shooting the deep ball with the zone. The perimeter defense in the zone has to do a better job at closing out at shooters, if not shooters are just going to continue having a field day scoring threes in the perimeter holes of the zone.
After an 0-2 week, LIU is 2-6 in the NEC. CCSU upsets previously undefeated Robert Morris on the road (their two NEC wins: at Wagner, at RMU…go figure!) and now have the same record as LIU for the eighth and final NEC playoff spot. Right now, LIU has the tiebreaker over CCSU although they will meet again in a couple of weeks. LIU has a pair of home games next week in Robert Morris in a ESPNU, nationally-televised game and Saint Francis University. RMU is not going to come to Brooklyn happy after losing a game they should have won at home to a team with just one win going in.
LIU just has to continue playing with their heads high and try to steal wins and get as many wins as they can. Remember, this same Mount St. Mary’s team last season was 2-6 in the NEC and went all the way to the NEC Final. The Blackbirds just got to continue to play and hopefully they can get back Gilbert Parga and Chris Carter soon for the stretch run. LIU need to use these two home games coming up to start building momentum for the second half of the NEC season. They got to continue to fight and play hard and give themselves a change to play in the NEC postseason.