In a season that has seen its fair share of heartbreak for the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team and its fans, Thursday’s game against Central Connecticut State brought the final dagger to the hopes of any type of postseason play for the 2013-14 season as LIU loses in overtime to CCSU 86-82 at the Steinberg Wellness Center. The loss eliminates LIU from any involvement in the 2014 NEC Tournament and gives CCSU the final NEC playoff spot.
It was none other than CCSU’s Kyle Vinales who hit a three at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. Vinales hit his only two threes of the game in the final 1:06 of regulation that took the game into overtime after LIU was up 71-67 with just over two minutes remaining.
The Blackbirds once again got off to a slow start to the game getting down 10-0 until Gerrell Martin scored LIU’s first basket over five minutes in. Martin would then take over offensively for LIU as he knocked down shot after shot. Even the shots he was missing would rim in and out. He was locked in that first half and scored 22 point on a blazing 9 of 14 shooting, making four threes.
The problem was LIU couldn’t contain Faronte Drakeford who hit five of seven shots and scored 12 in the first half. Drakeford was doing his damage in and around the basket and was helping get LIU bigs in foul trouble. Once again, the dreaded foul woes was a problem for LIU and it hit them hard in the first half. Reed had two fouls just 4:25 into the game. Later, Landon Atterberry got himself into first half foul woes with two fouls with 8:45 remaining in the half. Then Glenn Feidanga picked up his third foul just before halftime.
With LIU’s foul troubles, it was Martin shooting heroics that kept LIU within striking distance at the half, 37-31. Jason Brickman in his chase to 1,000 career assists had six first half assists. He would have had more if those Martin’s in and out shots had fallen.
The tide started turning in the second half as LIU started picking up it up defensively and was getting momentum from the supporting crowd of 1,073 with their loud chants of “defense”. With LIU down nine at 59-50, the Blackbirds would go on a 17-2 run to take a six-point lead with 4:48 to go in regulation.
Yet, CCSU got big baskets and rebounds from Brandon Pell who played a heck of a game for the Blue Devils to get CCSU back within four before Kyle Vinales played Mr. Clutch in the final minutes of regulation.
After the first three by Vinales to get CCSU within one, Martin was fouled and made both free throws to go up three with 18 seconds remaining. LIU head coach Jack Perri decided not to foul Vinales and send him to the line for two free throws instead deciding to let Martin play straight up man-on-man defense on him and not foul. To Martin’s credit, he was all over Vinales but it goes to show the greatness of Vinales, he buried the three over Martin. “In that situation, I did not.” admitted Perri regarding fouling CCSU up three in that final possession. “I just didn’t. I’ve done that before but I didn’t on that situation and maybe I should have.”
In overtime, Peel continued hurting LIU with a couple of quiet baskets to start the extra period. For some reason, Landon Atterberry and E.J. Reed each took an rushed ill-advised three which drew the ire of Perri who was visually upset at his players shot selection. Even then, LIU come back from down four to twice take a one-point lead before CCSU would close the game on a 7-2 run which included a huge missed three by Gilbert Parga with 15 seconds remaining that rimmed in and out and would have given LIU the lead. CCSU would ice the game at the free throw line where they were a perfect 18 for 18 and took away with them the final NEC playoff spot.
CCSU got a team-high 25 points from Faronte Drakeford and 18 points from Brandon Peel. Kyle Vinales who score those killers six points at the end of regulation scored just eight points on 3 of 9 shooting but of course hit his only two threes of the game. Matt Mobley scored ten including the game-clinching two free throws with two seconds left in overtime. Malcolm McMillan scored 11 points.
LIU got a career-high 31 points from Gerrell Martin. In the last two games, Martin has scored 57 points and has gotten back-to-back career high scoring games. Freshman Joel Hernandez, who had a great second half with 13 points, finished with a career-high 17 points and got his first career double-double with 12 rebounds. Hernandez showed LIU fans what there is to hope for from him in the next three years. E.J. Reed finished with a double-double 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Jason Brickman got his eleventh double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 assists. I assume he would trade the double-double for a win. With his ten assists, he is now just three assists short of 1,000 with 997. He should easily get it on Senior Day on Saturday against Bryant in the season finale. Brickman played all 45 minutes.
After the game a devastated Jack Perri didn’t have to many words to say. “I don’t know what to say guys.” said Perri. “I’m devastated, the guys are devastated. Devastating loss. It’s been that kind of year.”
So Saturday will be the final time we will get to see the greatness of Jason Brickman in his LIU Brooklyn jersey. That is really the only thing LIU has to play for on Saturday. This is not the ending Brickman envisioned coming into this season but it is the unfortunate reality. “All I said to the guys is I want Jason to go out on a win and obviously for him to get 1,000. Get ready to get prepared tomorrow. There is not a lot of happy people in (the locker room).” Perri told his team after the brutal loss.
After three straight NEC championship seasons, a new NEC champion will be crowned in a couple of weeks. It is so unfortunate for Brickman and for Julian Boyd, even with him watching on the bench all year, to not even get a chance to defend what they help build over the last three seasons. It is a really sad shame.