It was a game of eight versus eight. Robert Morris with only eight players left on their roster against LIU Brooklyn’s eight guys available for the game. For one half, it was a pretty even game. In the second half, the best player in the NEC took over and it was not much LIU could do as they fall to RMU at the Steinberg Wellness Center Thursday night 65-56 in front of a national television audience on ESPNU.
The biggest difference in this game, even though both teams played eight players, RMU had their shooters while LIU’s was sitting on the bench in nice button down shirts. Junior shooting guard Gerrell Martin missed this game due to a strained shoulder he suffered in practice on Tuesday and junior Gilbert Parga just got his walking boot removed and is not yet ready to play. Without these two, there was not enough offensive firepower to counter the excellence that is RMU senior guard Karvel Anderson when he gets going.
Karvel Anderson scored all 16 of his points in the second half as he was held score scoreless in the first half after picking up two first half fouls in seven minutes. He took care of that immediately starting the second half, knocking down his first two attempts, both three-pointers. It took what was an RMU three-point halftime lead and ballooned it to nine in 48 seconds. The Blackbirds could only play catch up the rest of the way as LIU never got any closer than seven points.
“I thought we could hurt them inside and we didn’t, not enough.” LIU head coach Jack Perri said after the loss. “Our guys did a decent job posting up. We didn’t deliver passes enough. They bothered us a little bit around the rim, I was surprised at that. Good for them they did a good job against us on the defensive end.”
LIU shot their second-lowest shooting percentage of the season making just 20 of 62 field goals (32.3%) and going 4 of 18 (22.2%) from three. The Colonials held LIU to 0.84 points per possession, their lowest number so far in NEC play.
Meanwhile, RMU gets back on track and goes to 8-1 in the NEC to hold on to first-place in the NEC by a game over Bryant who they’ve beaten head-to-head twice.
LIU stayed in the game in the first half by holding RMU to 33% shooting even after RMU raced out to a 10-0 start to the game which LIU erased with a 14-0 run immediately afterwards before the game settled in and become a defensive chess game.
“They sliced up our 1-2-2 (defense) in the first few possessions. They got some slips. Our backline of our 1-2-2, our forwards didn’t do a great job communicating.” Perri said. “We went to the 2-3 zone and that helped stabilize us a little bit and it also helped that Karvel (Anderson) had two fouls.”
The second half was a different story as RMU shot 45% from the floor and turn it around from three going 6 for 13 after 1 for 6 three-point shooting in the first half. LIU without their better outside shooters in Martin and Parga shot 4 of 18 from three in the game and didn’t allow many clean looks to either Jason Brickman, Troy Joseph or Iverson Fleming from the outside.
“We got hurt in transition a ton. We just kept missing shots and missing shots.” said Perri. “That can be demoralizing. I think that is what kind of happened to some of guys. We didn’t have the focus to get back defensively enough.”
Like LIU, RMU has had adjust their defense to playing more zone from their traditional man-to-man defense with just eight players and a thin front court. They are adjusting to it well so far. “As we have been going through it, we kind of been learning on the fly a little bit.” said RMU head coach Andy Toole. “We figuring out certain ways of how people are going to attack it and certain things we think they’re going to do and how to combat some of that stuff. We are kind of learning it together.”
Behind Anderson’s game-high 16 points, Stephan Hawkins scored 10 points, Lucky Jones, Charles Oliver and Anthony Myers-Pate all finished with 9 points and Aaron Tate off the bench scored five points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
No LIU starter shot above 50% from the field. E.J. Reed lead LIU with 14 points but he was 5 of 15 from the floor. Landon Atterberry also had a tough go of it inside as he went 2 of 7 for just four points and two rebounds. Atterberry played in only 19 minutes and just 5 of those were played in the second half.
Iverson Fleming who got the start in place of the injured Gerrell Martin was held to seven points on 3 of 12 shooting. Troy Joseph scored eleven. Glenn Feidanga scored seven off the bench but shot 1 of 5 in the game.
Jason Brickman played in 39 minutes and finished with eight points and eleven assists and with those eleven assists, it now puts him at 941 career assists and he passes Ohio’s D.J. Cooper and Oregon State’s and NBA Hall of Famer “The Glove” Gary Payton into 11th place on the NCAA career all-time assist list. Next up, is entering into the top ten on the list with Notre Dame/Oklahoma State’s and current CBS Sports analysts Doug Gottlieb (947) and Greg Anthony (950) ahead of Brickman.
With the loss, LIU falls to 2-7 and matches the worst start LIU has had since the 2007-08 season. LIU’s next two games could now help determine if they are going to be participating in this season’s NEC tournament. They face Saint Francis University on Saturday who are two games ahead of them in the standings and lost to St. Francis Brooklyn Thursday night and then head to Sacred Heart next Thursday who are a game behind LIU and CCSU in the standings. Sacred Heart and CCSU both also lost Thursday night.
LIU has no other choice but to get wins out of these next two games or they have the possibility of facing going from a NEC three-peat to being on the outside looking in on the NEC tourney. That would be a hard pill to swallow for seniors like Brickman and Julian Boyd who you have to feel bad for as he sits and watches his team on the bench knowing they may not even get a shot to four-peat if things don’t get turned around in a hurry. This could be the reality if wins don’t start happening soon and it has to begin this Saturday.