LIU Brooklyn 64 St. Francis Brooklyn 81 – 40th Battle of Brooklyn

LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri talking with guard Iverson Fleming during Saturday's game against St. Francis Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri talking with guard Iverson Fleming during Saturday’s game against St. Francis Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea)

It was the annual Battle of Brooklyn. It was a battle of experience versus youth. For 19 minutes, youth was game but for the other 21 minutes experience had its way. That sums up the dominating second half performance for the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers as they defeated LIU Brooklyn 81-64 in the 40th edition of the Battle of Brooklyn at the Pope Physical Education Center on Saturday.

The Blackbirds actually played a very good first half. Most of their offense came from the only player who has played in this game for four years in senior Gerrell Martin. He was pretty much the offense for LIU Brooklyn in the first half with 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting.

Martin’s hot half gave LIU a lead through the majority of the first half although it was mostly a one-possession game.

LIU's Gerrell Martin lead his team with 18 points vs St. Francis Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU’s Gerrell Martin lead his team with 18 points vs St. Francis Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea)

With under two minutes to go in the half, it was another Icelandic import who gave the Terriers a big lift to close the half. Gunnar Olafsson, who hails from the same Iceland town as Martin Hermannsson, scored all six of his points in the final two minutes including five straight points in the final 47 seconds which gave the Terriers a six-point halftime lead and the separation they needed to take control of the game. Olafsson’s three right before the half was a killer.

“The last four minutes span (in the first half) I thought was big.” said Perri. “We couldn’t get stops. The tide kind of turn a little bit after that.”

LIU closed to within five in the early portions of the second half but then the St. Francis Brooklyn’s poise and experience did the youthful Blackbirds in.

A 13-4 run by the Terriers gave them their first double-digit lead of the game and then the Terriers defense carried them the rest of the way in particularly junior forward Amdy Fall who added to his defensive player of the year résumé with four second-half blocks as LIU tried going to the rim to get back into the game.

“That is a really good team (in St. Francis Brooklyn). They showed why they are in first place right now.” said Perri after the loss. “I thought it was more of our defensive lapses that was the difference in the game, not so much our offense.”

Nura Zanna played a good second half after playing just two minutes due to foul troble in the first. Photo: Bob Dea)

One frustrating factor for the Blackbirds was watching Nura Zanna have to sit with two fouls not even two minutes into the game. Then Zanna was LIU’s biggest offense threat in the second half, scoring all 11 of his points and grabbing six rebounds.

“Yes, it is frustrating and it is not the first time.” said Perri. “Obviously, I think the world in Zanna and I think he could be a really good player. I think he showed some of that in the second half. Those games he can stay on the floor more, we’re a lot different team.”

The Terriers did a good job of shutting Gerrell Martin down to just two second-half points and allowing him to just shoot just two shots after his sizzling first half.

“They didn’t let me get the ball. They didn’t let me even breathe at times.” said Martin. “I give credit to them.”

LIU couldn’t get anything going in the second half against St. Francis Brooklyn’s stingy defense. LIU shot 35% in the second half and couldn’t make a three while St. Francis Brooklyn shot 52% and made four threes.

Another factor was that St. Francis Brooklyn’s bench was able to make major contributions, led by Amdy Fall. Antonio Jenifer, Gunnar Olafsson and Glenn Sanabria along with Fall scored 34 points for the Terriers. They outscored LIU’s bench by twenty.

“We talked about having to focus on (Jalen) Cannon and (Brent) Jones and other guys stepped up for them. They had a lot of guys step up for them.” said Perri.

Brent Jones was named the Battle of Brooklyn Most Valuable Player with his 18 points and eight rebounds in his 36 minutes. He helped bring the Terriers their first Battle of Brooklyn win in five seasons and it was a first for the outgoing seniors.

“It is a great experience to play in the Battle of Brooklyn.” said Jones. “It is another milestone that (we) wanted. It is an accomplishment.”

St. Francis Brooklyns Brent Jones L) and Amdy Fall R) were the stars for Terriers in second half. Photo: Bob Dea)

St. Francis Brooklyns Brent Jones (L) and Amdy Fall (R) were the stars for Terriers in second half. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Four Terriers finished in double-figures. Along with Jones’ 18 points, Amdy Fall finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four blocks. Senior Jalen Cannon finished just short of another double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Tyreek Jewell finished with 12 points.

With the win and a Robert Morris to Bryant on Saturday, St. Francis Brooklyn is now is sole possession of first place in the Northeast Conference with a 8-2 mark.

After Martin’s team-leading 18 points and Zanna’s 11 points, Elvar Friðriksson was the only other double-digit scorer for the Blackbirds. He finished with 12 points.

The loss puts LIU Brooklyn at 4-6 in the NEC but with losses to all the teams below them in the standings, they remain in seventh place in the standings. The gap to next spot in the standings got one game further out as a the trio of fourth place teams are now all with a 6-4 record.

The tough stretch of competition continues on for LIU as things don’t get any easier next week with Robert Morris and St. Francis U. coming into Brooklyn with winning conference records. If LIU wants to see themselves back in the NEC tournament, they are going to need to get some upsets wins along the way and there are nothing but opportunities heading at them in the coming games.

Box Score

LIU Gameday Preview – Game 21 (NEC Game 10) – St. Francis Brooklyn

The Pope Physical Education Center. Home of the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers and to the 40th annual Battle of Brooklyn game between LIU Brooklyn and St. Francis Brooklyn. (Photo: sfc.edu)

Opponent: St. Francis Brooklyn

Record: 13-9, 7-2 NEC (Last game: W vs Mount St. Mary’s, 73-67, OT
KenPom Ranking: 157
Tip-Off Time: 4:00pm
Location: Pope Physical Education Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: TV: MSG and FOX College Sports; Online: NEC Front Row
Meeting History: 101th all-time meeting. LIU Brooklyn leads the series, 63-37. This is the 40th Battle of Brooklyn meeting. LIU Brooklyn also leads the Battle of Brooklyn series, 23-16. LIU has won four straight and five of the last six Battle of Brooklyn games.

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Central Connecticut 55 LIU Brooklyn 67

LIU Brooklyn returned to the Steinberg Wellness Center for first time in three weeks and in front of largest campus crowd, got their second win in a row in defeating CCSU. Photo: Bod Dea)

LIU Brooklyn returned to the Steinberg Wellness Center for first time in three weeks and in front of their largest campus crowd, got their second win in a row in defeating CCSU. (Photo: Bob Dea)

A win. That was all head coach Jack Perri and his LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds were worried about getting as they played Central Connecticut State for the second time this season as LIU returned home to the Steinberg Wellness Center for the first time in three weeks. A win was what they got as LIU for the first time this conference season, won back-to-back games in defeating CCSU on Thursday night 67-55 in front of 1,431 fans, the biggest crowd at the Steinberg Wellness Center so far this season.

The game didn’t get off to a wonderful start as both teams played hot potato with the basketball. LIU finally got a handle on the basketball and took control of the game with a 18-0 run in the latter portion of the first half to go from down 18-17 to being up 32-18. That spurt was led by freshman point guard Elvar Friðriksson who scored 11 of those 18 points in that run and finally broke a personal streak of five straight single digit scoring games.

Elvar Friðriksson played his best game in nearly a month in helping LIU sweep CCSU. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Elvar Friðriksson played his best game in nearly a month in helping LIU sweep CCSU. (Photo: Bob Dea)

“It was a big game for me to build up my confidence.” said Friðriksson. “I haven’t been playing with a lot of confidence so I was trying not to force things. I was trying to take open looks and control the game.”

CCSU would try to make a game of it early in the second half and cut LIU’s ten point halftime lead down to six within the first two minutes but LIU stayed poised and responded with a 14-4 run to push the lead up to 16. The Blue Devils wouldn’t get any closer than ten the rest of the way.

“This one was a pretty big game for us going in.” said Perri after the win. “I didn’t know how our guys would respond. We hadn’t been in a situation to have the ability to sweep a team. With such a young group, I think the last few days were a little inconsistent. I didn’t know what to expect but our guys did a really good job defending. A big thing also was how unselfish our guys were.”

With the 55 points allowed, that was the second-least points allowed to an opponent this season (NJIT – 49 pts) and also the second-least points per possession allowed with 0.83 (NJIT – 0.71). LIU forced CCSU into 19 turnovers, 15 of those coming in the first half. LIU converted those 19 turnovers into 18 points.

The Blackbirds were able to hold CCSU’s Brandon Peel and Matt Mobley in check as they combined for eight points although Peel did grab seven boards. The only Blue Devils who showed much life were Faronte Drakeford who finished with a double-double 20 points and 11 rebounds and Khalen Cumberlander who scored 11 but only three of those came after halftime.

Gerrell Martin getting inside for two of his team-high 17 points. (Photo: Bob Dea)

Senior Gerrell Martin continued his stellar play during NEC games this season as he led LIU with 17 points and hit five threes in the game. Martin believe that things might be starting to gel from this team as they head into the second half of conference play.

“A lot of chemistry is going on, not just with the starting five but whenever we sub in, we’re on the same page.” said Martin. “I just think that comes from a lot of people playing in practice with different lineups. There is a lot of confidence especially with the freshmen and it is helping us a lot to get wins and play defense. It showed today.”

For Friðriksson, this game was a big confidence booster considering the rough time he has had this month. He hopes this is a start of a turnaround for him back to the way he was producing to start off the season.

“I had been hesitating too much.” said Friðriksson. “I just lost my rhythm and I’m trying to find it back. But the other guys have been stepping up so I’m just trying to step up too so we can be a better team for February.”

Perri has started to go deeper into his bench of late and have been spreading out the minutes more. The beneficiaries have been the Woods twins, Trevin and Trevon, who have seen their minutes increase as NEC play has gone along. Also, Perri is happy to have Glenn Feidanga back from his ankle issues and feels he finally has the depth he is comfortable utilizing.

Trevon Woods #5), Trevin Woods #0 and Glenn Feidanga #23 have bought added depth and are getting more playing time. Photo: Bob Dea)

Trevon Woods #5), Trevin Woods #0 and Glenn Feidanga #23 have bought added depth and are getting more playing time. (Photo: Bob Dea)

“I am comfortable (with our depth).” said Perri. “I see who is playing well. What are the match-ups? That is kinda what I told my guys in the last few days because we (now) have a lot of guys. After last year, with having so many injuries and not even being able to play five-on-five in practice to now having all these bodies, it’s a little weird. I told them, you have to be patient with me and understand it’s not about your stats. It’s about winning games and that’s not an easy thing for young kids to except but our guys are doing a good job with it. I like the fact I can give these guys more rest so they are fresher at the end of games.”

The road to the NEC tournament now takes a sudden turn in terms of difficulty as LIU’s next six games could determine whether or not his team will be a possible sleeper or a team fighting just to get in. It starts with the always competitive Battle of Brooklyn game on Saturday at first-place St. Francis Brooklyn. Perri knows his team will be for a difficult battle against one of the best defensive teams in the NEC.

“They have two superstars in (Brent) Jones and (Jalen) Cannon.” said Perri of the Terriers. “I know (head coach) Glenn Braica and I know his style of play and how tough they are, both on the glass and obviously their defense, how they deny and really pressure passing lanes. We haven’t been great on the glass but hopefully with (Glenn) Feidanga back, that helps us some. That is what we are going to have to get prepared for and obviously we don’t have a whole lot of time to do it but we will. It is going to be a major challenge but it should be fun.”

With the win against CCSU, LIU sits at 4-5 midway through the conference season and alone in seventh, a game behind a trio of teams tied for fourth at 5-4 and a game ahead of Sacred Heart in eighth. LIU could have been sitting in a prettier position had they not had some of those second-half leads in this first half of NEC play get away. Yet, the goal of making the NEC tournament once again is very much attainable if they continue playing solid basketball as they have over the last couple of games and learn from their earlier mishaps as they start the second half of NEC play. These next three weeks will be crucial. It all begins, of course, at the Battle of Brooklyn.

Box Score

Notes:

Jamil Hood did dress but Jack Perri said after the game that Hood was banged up which was why he did not play.

Landon Atterberry, who missed the last two games last week due to illness, played just five minutes and was 0-1 from the field.

Gerrell Martin scored in double figures for the sixth time in eight NEC games this season.

LIU Gameday Preview – Game 20 (NEC Game 9) – Central Connecticut

Opponent: Central Connecticut

Record: 3-18, 1-7 NEC (Last game: W vs Wagner, 53-50
KenPom Ranking: 343
Tip-Off Time: 7:00pm
Location: Steinberg Wellness Center – Brooklyn, NY
Media Game Coverage: Online: NEC Front Row; Audio: Red Zone Media
Meeting History: 38th all-time meeting. Central Connecticut leads the series, 19-18. LIU took the first meeting back on January 15 up at CCSU by a score of 71-66.

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Brickman gets double-double in his debut for Medi Bayreuth

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LIU Brooklyn alum Jason Brickman who last week sign with his second professional team in Germany top flight club Medi Bayreuth, made his debut on Tuesday with the team and it was quite an impressive one.

Brickman had a very solid debut, finishing with 11 points on 3 of 6 shooting including 3 of 4 from three-point land and dished out 10 assists with just three turnovers and a steal in over 27 minutes off the bench for his first professional double-double in a 101-96 win over Telekon Baskets Bonn.

Brickman will wear number 55 for his new club. His customary number 15 is already taken by former Georgetown forward Brandon Bowman.

Brickman joined the team last Friday and there was uncertainty whether or not he will get be ready to play this game. He was definitely was ready and put out a nice performance.

His team’s next game is on Saturday against Alba Berlin who is in first place in the German BBL.

Martin Hermannsson named NEC and ECAC Rookie of the Week

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On Monday, the NEC announced that LIU Brooklyn freshman Martin Hermannsson was named this week’s NEC Rookie of the Week for his stellar play last week. He was also named ECAC men’s basketball Rookie of the Week.

Last week was Hermannsson best week in conference play this season as he averaged 17.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 3.5 steals, and was 8 for 16 from the floor (50%) as well as 17 for 20 (85%) from the free throw line.

Hermannsson had a career game on Saturday when he scored a career-high 21 points on 4 of 6 shooting and was 12 of 15 from the free throw line to help LIU Brooklyn get an important road win at Fairleigh Dickinson.

With this past week performances, Hermannsson is now up to second on the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game and second on the team in assists with 3.4 assists per game. He also currently leads the team in minutes played at 31.2 minutes per game.

Hermannson is 21st in the NEC in conference-scoring with 11.8 points per game in NEC games. He is ranked fourth among NEC freshman. He is also seventh in the NEC in assists during conference play with 3.9 assists per game which ranks him second among all NEC freshman.

He is also the third-best free throw shooter in the NEC at 85.5% and is second in the NEC in conference games at 88.6%.

Hermannsson becomes the third LIU Brooklyn freshman to be named NEC Rookie of the Week following fellow countryman Elvar Friðriksson and two-time honoree Nura Zanna.

LIU Brooklyn becomes the first NEC team since the 2009-2010 Robert Morris Colonials to have three different freshmen to be named NEC Rookie of the Week.

Congratulations to Martin Hermannsson on his honor. LIU Brooklyn is back at the Steinberg Wellness Center on Thursday, January 29 to take on Central Connecticut State for a 7pm tip.

LIU Brooklyn 80 Fairleigh Dickinson 76

It wasn’t pretty at times but LIU Brooklyn got a desperately needed NEC win at Fairleigh Dickinson as they held off the Knights to win 80-76 on Saturday afternoon.

The Blackbirds used another strong start to the game to get out in front by thirteen at 25-12 with over eight minutes left in the first half. FDU would hang tough and get back into it but LIU still held an eight point lead with 4:46 left. FDU would finish the half strong with a 9-3 run to close the half and LIU would go into the locker room with just a 37-35 lead at the break.

FDU would continue their run into the second half by scoring the first six points to take a four-point lead and Blackbirds fan had to be thinking, ‘here we go again’. This time, LIU had an answer and responded. They took the lead back but FDU came back to tie the game up at 65 with 6:05 left.

Now, the Blackbirds fans were really nervous as LIU has not feared well in these situation in NEC play this season.

This time, LIU didn’t let that get into their heads and went on a 8-2 run to go ahead by six with under two minutes to play. FDU would fight back to get within three with 49 seconds remaining. Then came the biggest play of the game.

Elvar Friðriksson would get into the lane on a drive and get off a layup attempt but missed it and out of nowhere Joel Hernandez came flying and slammed down the follow to put LIU up five with 24 seconds left. Gerrell Martin and Martin Hermannsson would hit their free throws down the stretch to give LIU their much-needed third NEC win of the season.

It was nice to see LIU, at least for one game, break the cycle of getting up by double-digits and then losing even though FDU didn’t make it easy for the Blackbirds. LIU really needed to work in the second half. Luckily, the offense pulled through with 43 second half points because for the third straight game, LIU allowed over 40 points to their opponents in the second half as they gave up 41 points to the Knights.

In fact, LIU scored 1.06 points per possession for the second consecutive game (80 points in 75 possessions) and allowed just 0.99 points per possession (76 points in 77 possessions) to the Knights. LIU allowed FDU to shot just 38.7% in the first half but the Knights shot 56% in the second half which keep them in the game.

The difference was LIU was able to get to the free throw line 45 times which was a season-high. They were +20 in the free throw attempts differential. LIU nearly cost themselves by missing 16 free throws, ten of those in the second half when the game was getting tight. LIU did help themselves by only committing just nine turnovers while FDU committed 15 turnovers.

The Blackbirds got a career-high performance from freshman Martin Hermannsson who scored 21 points, 18 of those points came in the second half. He scored those 21 points on just six shots attempts. That is because Hermannsson went to the free throw line 15 times and made twelve. He also added four rebounds, four assists and five steals. This was easily his best game of the season. Hermannsson has scored in double-figures in six of the eight NEC games and is now averaging over ten points per game for the season at 10.3.

Gerrell Martin had a solid game with 17 points on eleven shots. Joel Hernandez scored nine but no two points were bigger than the two he got on that follow dunk. Hernandez though struggled mightily from the free throw going 3 for 10. I thought Perri should have taken him out late in the game because of his free throw struggles but Hernandez rewarded Perri for his faith in him with that big dunk play late in the game.

Two Blackbirds who had surprising games were Glenn Feidanga and Trevon Woods. Feidanga in his second game back of his second return stint, nearly got a double-double off the bench with nine points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes. Woods scored a season-high seven points on 3 of 4 shooting in just five minutes of playing time.

FDU got 21 points from Mustafaa Jones who scored 16 of his points in the second half. Xavier Harris finished with a double-double 13 points and ten rebounds. Freshman Darian Anderson, who killed LIU in the first meeting, didn’t have the same impact in this game as he finished seven points before fouling out. FDU has now lost six straight games and fall to 2-6 in the NEC.

With the win, LIU Brooklyn is now 3-5 in the NEC and in a tie with Sacred Heart for seventh place in the NEC standings. By virtue of their head-to-head win, LIU has the tiebreaker for now with Sacred Heart. Now, they are just one game behind of fifth-place teams, Saint Francis U. and Wagner who both lost on Saturday and two games behind Mount St. Mary’s for fourth and that final first round home game spot.

Up next is Central Connecticut who LIU has already beaten on the road and who just got their first NEC win of the season in dramatic fashion in beating Wagner at home on Saturday.

That game looms large because after that game, LIU’s schedule get a lot more difficult with games versus St. Francis Brooklyn, a pair against both Robert Morris and Saint Francis U. and a road game at Mount St. Mary’s who are difficult to beat on at their place. LIU needs to build off this victory and try and take care of business on Thursday. For now, they get the win they badly needed and have a chance to get some momentum going before they head into the toughest portion of their conference season.