LIU Brooklyn knew heading into Sunday’s game against Hofstra at the Barclays Center that if they had any chance of beating them, they would need to contain their excellent shooting. Well, things just didn’t work out that way as Hofstra shot the lights out and defeated LIU 88-62 to snap the Blackbirds four-game winning streak as they now head into NEC play next weekend.
This was definitely not the same Hofstra team LIU saw back at the Wellness Center a couple of seasons ago where they pulled out a four-point win. Hofstra took control in the first half with a sizzling 59 percent shooting display including hitting eight of fifteen three-pointers. Hofstra seemed like they couldn’t miss as LIU just couldn’t getting their footing in their first game after the brief Christmas break.
“This was not one of our better performances.” said LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri after the loss. “We talked about taking away threes, we didn’t do a good enough job of that. We did not play well and so we lost.”
Ameen Tanksley finished with a career-high thirty-two points on twelve of twenty shooting including hitting five threes. Juan’ya Green collected his first career triple-double with fifteen points, ten rebounds and ten assists. Monmouth transfer Dion Nesmith scored thirteen points and Staten Island native Brian Bernardi was four of seven, all from three and finished with twelve points for the now 8-4 Pride.
“I figured (Hofstra) would come back today and have more of a scene of urgency then they probably had in their last two games.” Perri said. “They went really, really small and put Tanksley at the five which hurt us a little bit. Also, once they got into our bench and we had to play some guys that don’t get as many minutes usually once Gerrell went down, they got open looks whether it was man or zone so I think that played a big part.”
In a game like this, once the score was out of hand, you just want to see everyone come out of it healthy especially before NEC play and for LIU that wasn’t the case. Senior guard Gerrell Martin banged his head on the court diving for a loose ball with 7:48 remaining in the first half. He looked extremely woozy as he sat up on the court while the LIU trainers were looking at him and needed assistance to get onto his feet and back into the locker room. At the moment, it is not immediately known how long Martin will be out.
“We’ll see what happens. It is a crazy protocol with head injuries. He got wacked pretty good. We’ll see what happens in the next few days.” said Perri of Martin’s head injury.
If Martin has to miss the NEC opener on Saturday versus Bryant, it will be a blow for Jack Perri’s team. LIU’s depth has been hurt of late without sophomore Glenn Feidanga who missed his third straight game in a row due to a foot injury. It could mean Joel Hernandez may have to start for LIU if Martin isn’t cleared to play by Saturday which would change up Perri’s rotation for the first NEC game.
Freshman Nura Zanna nearly got his first double-double of his collegiate career with fourteen points and nine rebounds before fouling out for the fourth time this season. It was his first disqualification in his last five games.
Iverson Fleming finished with 13 points, all scored in the second half. Joel Hernandez scored ten. They were a combined eight for twenty-two in the game so neither played their best game.
Hofstra held the starting lineup after Zanna to just a combined sixteen points. The Iceland duo of Friðriksson and Hermannson was held to eight points total. Friðriksson had his worst shooting game of the season, going one for ten from the floor. Hermannson didn’t fare much better going two of seven. Landon Atterberry had a quiet game after getting into early foul trouble. He finished with just five points.
This game caps off a topsy-turvy non-conference schedule in which they finished 4-7. Considering, the season started with a six-game losing streak, an 4-7 record going into NEC play isn’t so bad.
“We talked about just improving day-to-day since the beginning of the year and I thought we’ve been doing that.” said Perri. “Our guys started to feel a little bit more comfortable especially offensively, I thought it was more offense than defense early on with shot decisions and things like that. I think our defense has been pretty good beside this game.”
Now, the real test begins with conference play. LIU starts it off with three straight home games at the Steinberg Wellness Center. It is a nice advantage the Blackbirds have to start conference play with and get back to playing the way they were during their four-game winning streak.
It won’t start off easy with Bryant being the NEC opening opponent for LIU but in a year in which parity has seemingly dominated the NEC, LIU is in good position at least to get themselves off to a fast start.
“We move on. I already told our team that we’re moving on, this is about Bryant now.” said Perri. “It is about league play. We’re done. We’re 4-7. I don’t even care about the record to be honest with you. I think we’ve made a lot of strides from where we were in November. That is the most important thing. We can get ready from Bryant. We have a few games at home and hopefully we can play better than we played today.”
If you’re a LIU fan, you have to feel like this non-conference season went as you would expect. Some ups, some downs, some great play at times, some really bad play at times but all in all for one of the youngest team in the country, it wasn’t too bad. This team looks like they have pieces to not only compete in the NEC but make a return back to the NEC tournament. The eighteen-game sprint to March finally begins on Saturday.