Undermanned LIU Brooklyn WBB showing plenty of fight in early going

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(Photo: Bob Dea)

How would you like to start out your first season as a Division I head coach and have just seven scholarship players available? Well, that is what LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball first-year head coach Stephanie Oliver has had to deal with to open up her tenure.

The Blackbirds, who came into the season with just ten available scholarship players, has been playing the entire first month of the season without guards Drew Winter and Ashley Brown and forward Angelia Allen, leaving Oliver with just eight players in total.

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LIU Brooklyn Stephanie Oliver and senior guard Shanovia Dove (Photo: Bob Dea-BHJ)

LIU is not only having to play with just eight players but they have two players who are at least 5’10” tall in their front court available. With a heavy size and depth disadvantage, LIU started out the season losing at Buffalo, 55-38. The following weekend, they traveled to Washington D.C. to take on Howard and came out with a 89-72 victory to give Oliver her first win as LIU Brooklyn head coach. Shanice Vaughn scored a career-high 23 points, Shanovia Dove poured in 20 and Paris Jones finished with a career-high 18 points.

Last week, during the Thanksgiving weekend, LIU hosted their annual LIU Turkey Classic which this season included themselves and two other teams in nationally-ranked Florida State and Sam Houston State. LIU hung around in the first quarter, trailing 23-15 after the end of one but it was all Seminoles from there on as their size and talent eventually wore the smaller Blackbirds and LIU would lose 78-42.

Two days later, LIU would walked up Flatbush Avenue to the Barclays Center for a Sunday matinee against Sam Houston State. LIU would trail 23-21 at half but come back in the third quarter to take a 45-42 lead. LIU though would get outscored 21-11 in the fourth quarter to fall to 1-3 on the season with a 63-56 loss. LIU played with only six players in that game and had four Blackbirds score at least ten points led by Paris Jones’ thirteen points.

Sophomore point guard Paris Jones (Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ)

Sophomore point guard Paris Jones (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

Wednesday night, they got their December started on the right foot with a fourth quarter comeback at Navy that saw them trail by 11 after three and then outscore Navy 23-12 in the fourth to force overtime and then overcome a four-point deficit in the extra session to win 68-66 for their second win of the season. Shanovia Dove finished with a career-high 27 points and Paris Jones scored 15 points.

All seven scholarship players are averaging over 23 minutes per game with four players averaging at least 30 minutes per game. In comparison, last season LIU didn’t have a single player averaging 30 minutes a game and only four players averaging over 20 minutes per game.

It is uncertain when Stephanie Oliver will get back some of the injured players to give her a little more depth and help relief some of these players who have been playing heavy minutes by necessity in the early going. The fight and the determination of this season’s LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball squad had been what has been really impressive through the team’s first five games. They easily could be 3-2 but even with their 2-3 record, they have already surprised considering the situation they are currently in and now with three home games in a row coming up in the next couple of weeks, LIU could pick up a few more wins before heading back on the road to end non-conference play.

Yet, Stephanie Oliver and her staff has her team playing very hard and while the results at times may not look so hot, under the circumstances they are currently playing under, they have had a pretty good start to their season all things considered.

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