Two games. Two wild second halves but at the end of the day, it is now two losses for LIU Brooklyn to start NEC play in 2014-15 as the Blackbirds came back from 13 down in the second half but fell short to Fairleigh Dickinson 75-69 at the Steinberg Wellness Center Monday night. It is LIU’s third loss in a row.
It was looking like a blowout loss in the making as FDU freshman Darian Anderson had himself a monster first half with 21 points on 8 of 9 shooting from the field. His only miss on one of his three three-point attempts in route to giving FDU a ten-point lead at halftime.
Credit FDU with making LIU playing a little faster then they wanted by putting on a full court press and forcing LIU into mistakes. LIU had difficult getting shots at the rim thanks in part to senior Darius Stokes and his four blocked shots.
LIU head coach Jack Perri made a couple of adjustment after halftime. One was playing Joel Hernandez, who had a terrific game for LIU, defensively on Anderson and he helped hold him in check in the second half to just five points.
Another was going to an unusual four-guard lineup which we haven’t seen much of this season with Martin Hermannsson running the point, Iverson Fleming, Gerrell Martin and Joel Hernandez with Nura Zanna as the lone front court player on the court for LIU. This lineup got LIU back in the game with a 15-2 run to give LIU the lead 65-62 with over 4 minutes left.
“I was very proud of the five guys that made that run.” said Perri. “I put Martin (Hermannsson) at the point and Iverson (Fleming) and Joel (Hernandez), Joel was awesome. He defended (Darian Anderson) in the second half. He obviously made some big plays offensively also.”
Late in the game, two huge calls both against LIU proved to be huge factors.
The first was the officials calling a technical foul on Joel Hernandez for hanging on the rim after when went through the lane and threw down a two-hand flush over 6’7” Darius Stokes. It looked like Hernandez was trying to regain his balance in the air as well as to avoid landing on Stokes but the technical was called rather quickly causing Perri to go insane on the sidelines. That technical helped stopped a 10-0 run by LIU and took away some of their momentum.
“(The official) said he pulled himself up on the rim. I don’t know if there was a guy underneath him. He said he would have called it anywhere. I obviously disagreed on that.” said Perri.
A couple of minutes later with under 2 minutes remaining and LIU down two, another huge call by the officials was made when Martin Hermannsson was called for a five-second closely guarded violation on the sidelines right in front of the LIU bench. Perri nearly lost it and was a microsecond away from getting his second technical in as many games as the official Brian O’Connell put the whistle to his mouth but saw Perri sit down fuming and decided not to ring him up.
“It should not have been a turnover.” Perri said after the game regarding the five-second call.
**UPDATE: If you want to see the calls, fast-forward through game archive (link here) and first see the Hernandez dunk/technical foul play starts at 1:47:20 and goes to 1:47:40 and then the Hermannsson five-second call starts at 2:00:30 and continues to 2:00:50.
Even after these calls, LIU still had a chance to win but they couldn’t get a timely hoop to fall and FDU made their free throws down the stretch to get their second straight road victory to start NEC play.
FDU were led by the super frosh Darian Anderson and his 26 points on 10 of 12 shooting. Mustafaa Jones scored 19 points to help the Knights push to 2-0 in the NEC and keep pace with the early frontrunners.
The Blackbirds got another tremendous game from senior Gerrell Martin who finished with 23 points on 6 for 14 shooting. Sophomore Joel Hernandez had one of his better overall games of the season on both end of the court with 15 points and five rebounds. Landon Atterberry finished with ten points and four rebounds.
“That is great.” said Perri of Gerrell Martin’s play over the last two games. “Hopefully he continues it. He is doing more than just shooting. He is taking the ball to the basket and he is doing some good things that way. Hopefully he can remain consistent.”
The streak of bad games continues for point guard Elvar Fridriksson. He played only 23 minutes and finished scoreless on just three shots. He also had just one assist on three turnovers. Martin Hermannsson didn’t have a good shooting game either. He was just 1 for 8 shooting for two points but played the point during LIU’s comeback run and showed great poise handling the ball under duress.
Iverson Fleming had a nice game off the bench with seven points in 22 minutes.
LIU will look back at this game and see if they have made some free throws, this game might have landed on the win column instead of the loss. They missed 10 of 33 free throws, a few of them at critical times as they mounting their charge back into the game and trying to build on their slim lead.
Also, this game was tightly officiated. There were 49 fouls called, 23 of those on LIU Brooklyn leading to 65 free throw attempts in the game.
FDU shot a tremendous 62.5% from the field in the first half before LIU defense tighten up in the second half. Consistency on both ends has really been a problem for LIU this season but especially on this current three-game slide.
“The first half was a carryover of the second half of the last game.” said Perri. “We have to put two good halves of defense together. Especially when we are having so much trouble scoring. Again, we are still shooting under 40 percent. If that continues, you got to be great defensively if you are going to have trouble scoring.”
It doesn’t get any easier on Thursday as 1-1 Sacred Heart and their up tempo offense comes in the Steinberg Wellness Center to close out this three-game home stand that was suppose to be an opportunity LIU had to take an advantage of but have not been able to. LIU will try and salvage one home win out of this home stand before they take to the road and to the Barclays Center for the next five games.