The Blackbirds just can’t seem to get any momentum going. Six days after winning in an overtime thriller at Niagara, LIU Brooklyn returned home to begin a brief two-game home stand against Sam Houston State Friday night and put up an overall lousy effort as the Bearkats leave Brooklyn with a 75-69 win at the Steinberg Wellness Center.
The Blackbirds started off very sluggish, turning the ball over time after time. A lot of turnovers coming unforced. Sam Houston took advantage of the LIU turnovers and got out in front to take an early six-point lead before LIU started to get it going thanks to an 8-0 run that gave LIU the lead.
Even though, LIU had 12 first half turnovers and was just two of eight from three, they led at the half by four by holding Sam Houston to 31% shooting from the floor.
LIU led by six early in the second half and looked like they would start pulling away from the Bearkats but an 11-5 SHSU run got them back the lead at 43-41.
The turning point came with the score tied at 50, SHSU went an a 5-0 run in one minute of game time and then Trevon Woods got hit with a foul on accidental poke in the eye on SHSU’s Jalin Barnes as Woods was going after an offensive rebound which incensed LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri and he got hit with a technical foul which ended up being a four-point play for SHSU as they hit four straight free throws and that would spark them to a 16-0 run for a 66-50 lead with 5:09 remaining and seemingly bury LIU.
Yet, to LIU’s credit, they had one more run in them and finally showed some urgency and desperation. Junior guard Aakim Saintil got it going with six straight points followed by a Jerome Frink slam to get within eight.
LIU would get within three with a 13-0 run with 2:44 remaining. They were still down three with 1:29 to go but LIU shouldn’t get a clutch shot to fall and couldn’t keep SHSU from going to the free throw line where they iced the game.
LIU hurt themselves at the free throw line. They had been pretty solid from the charity stripe this season but didn’t have a good game from the line vs SHSU. They missed 12 of 29 free throws which is one of the main reasons they lost this one.
The other, they fouled way too much especially in the second half in which SHSU was in the bonus with 10:35 remaining. LIU committed 18(!!) second half fouls and allowed the Bearkats to shot 34(!!) second half free throws in which they made 25. Overall, SHSU went to the line 38 times in this game to LIU’s 29.
Saintil and Joel Hernandez each led LIU with 16 points. Hernandez seem to play better at home than he does on the road. In his last three home games, he has scored 16 points in all three games. Saintil keeps alive his streak of double-digit scoring games although he didn’t play his best game with 4 of 10 shooting and a team-high five turnovers. Saintil twice laid on the floor after taking some hard contact to his face/head area but both times returned to the game. All in all, LIU committed 17 turnovers which led to 18 Bearkats points.
Sam Houston State , now 5-5, were led by Aurimas Majauskas with 21 points and Jamal Williams with 15 points. Majauskas hurt LIU inside and outside going 5 of 7 from two and 2 of 3 from three. He had made just two threes this season coming into the game. SHSU’s leading scorer Dakarai Henderson finished with just four points.
LIU’s Jerome Frink finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Martin Hermannsson had his streak of double-digit scoring games snapped at eight with just 5 points along with four turnovers. One observation regarding Hermannsson, he gets hit a ton on drives to the basket and more times than not, he doesn’t get a whistle. He draws two and sometimes three guys on drives and gets hit and nothing is called. It takes a noticeable hard foul for Hermannsson to get a call and you could tell tonight he was a little bit frustrated with the officiating. As was Jack Perri who finally blew up on the officials in the second half and got a tech that hurt LIU.
The Blackbirds, now falls to 5-4, will have to regroup as Incarnate Word comes to Brooklyn to face LIU at the Barclays Center Tuesday night. By the way, Incarnate Word beat St. John’s at Carnesecca Arena…by 22 points Friday night. The game on KenPom went from one-point favorite for LIU to a three-point favorite for Incarnate Word after Friday night’s results. Incarnate Word is ranked 158 on KenPom so that definitely won’t be an easy game for LIU to get.
LIU will need to get to work in this weekend and clean up a lot of things that went wrong against Sam Houston, foul shooting, turnovers, fouling too much being just some of the things. LIU had not won back-to-back games since starting the season 3-0. The 0.887 points per possession (69 points in 78 possessions) was their lowest offensive output so far this season and breaks a streak of three-straight games of over 1.0 points per possession.