It wasn’t pretty but they will take it. LIU Brooklyn used a 13-8 run down the stretch to close this game out and get their first road conference win of the season with a 71-66 victory at Detrick Gymnasium on Thursday night and move to 2-3 in the NEC.
LIU started off the game well and jumped out in front to a 22-10 lead midway through the first half. Slowly though, CCSU would start getting themselves back into the game and with the help of a Shakaris Lankey tip-in before the halftime buzzer, the Blue Devils would be with in five, 34-29 at the half. The Blackbirds didn’t play a bad first half. The biggest thing was they shot just one free throw the entire first half while CCSU went 7 for 9 which helped CCSU hang around.
After the halftime break, CCSU started off the second half like a team who wanted to get their first NEC win of the season. A 10-2 run to begin the half quickly put CCSU ahead. LIU tied the game again at 45 but then a 7-0 run by the Blue Devils gave them their largest lead of the game.
LIU finally decided to forget the three-point shot which they were struggling to make in the second half (3 for 13) and started heading to the basket. First, a Trevin Woods tip-in and then two straight end-to-end drives to the hoop by Martin Hermannsson got LIU back to within a point.
Runs by both team got the game tied at 58 after a Landon Atterberry three from the top of the key. From there, LIU took over. When they needed to most, LIU got some big stops on the defensive end and made some timely buckets, none bigger than the Gerrell Martin three with 1:24 left to put LIU up five.
“That was a toughness thing for our guys. That was a big win for us.” said LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri after the win. “Just understanding that going on the road in the NEC, that things are going to happen and that it is not going to be easy.”
Perri spread out the minutes with the nine guys he played. Only one player in Martin Hermannsson played 30 minutes. “That is what we wanted to do. We wanted to keep everybody involved and into the game and also kind of wear them out a little bit.”
Although, LIU had a hard time defensively most of the second half, they did come up huge when it counted and held CCSU to 0.98 points per possessions in 67 possession game for them although CCSU shot 47% in the game including 55% in the second half.
“The thing that keeps happening in the second halves is our defense gets lackluster.” said Perri. “They got a lot of interior layups. We got beat on penetration quite a bit in the second half.”
CCSU were led by Brandon Peel’s 20 points. He played extremely well and has shown incredible improvement on his offensive game from just last year alone. He also grabbed nine rebounds. Faronte Drakeford put in 12 points with six rebounds. Khalen Cumberlander had eleven. The Blue Devils now fall to 0-5 in the NEC and 2-16 overall.
LIU were led by the seniors Gerrell Martin and Landon Atterberry with 17 points each. Atterberry in his second game coming off the bench, played one of his best games of the season. His 17 points was a season-high for him. Combined they were 14 for 22 from the floor with four threes made.
“Without Glenn Feidanga right now, we are really limited in the front court, it just helps to have him come off the bench and spell Nura (Zanna) instead of both of them being tired at the same time.” said Perri of bringing Atterberry off the bench.
Redshirt freshman Nura Zanna who is coming off his second NEC rookie of the week honor of the season, continued his excellent play and got his first career double-double with 16 points (7-12 FGs) and 11 rebounds. Martin Hermannsson had a good all-around game with eight points, five rebounds, four assists and no turnovers.
LIU’s bench outscored CCSU 25 to 8, most of that damage done by Atterberry. LIU also scored 42 of their points in the paint as Zanna and Atterberry were able to get going in the interior along with LIU’s guard penetration down the lane.
This win was huge for the Blackbirds who has played hard and were in each of the first four games but had just one win to show for it and now they’re 2-3 and now head back to Brooklyn to face the on-charging 3-2 Mount St. Mary’s who beat FDU on Thursday on the road by twenty. The Mount has now won three straight after dropping their first two NEC games. They easily could be 4-1 in the NEC as they lost to Wagner by just two in double overtime.
“With such a young group, I just want them to play well.” said Perri. “I want them to care about playing hard, I want them to care about competing and staying together and being positive.”
Saturday’s game will be at the Barclays Center where LIU is 1-1 this season. It is going to be another grind it out tough battle but LIU has a chance to get back to .500 in the conference and quickly get back in the mix in a tightly-packed Northeast Conference.