It may not have always looked pretty at times but the Blackbirds won’t argue with the result. LIU Brooklyn used a fast 22-7 start and went wire-to-wire to defeat the now 1-12 CCSU Blue Devils, 76-67, at Detrick Gym Monday night.
LIU Brooklyn finished with four players in double figures led by Jerome Frink’s 19 points. Frink also had a game-high three blocks. Frink is now currently third in the NEC in blocks per game with 1.6 and has been turned some heads this season as much for his defensive plays as well for his offensive game.
After the game, Frink said that they to get back to focusing on the defensive end. “It has been a long road trip for us so we were happy we put them away early.” Frink said. “Our main focus was on defense so that was what we had to to win this game today. We know we don’t have problems scoring on offense, we had to spot them away on defense and grab rebounds.”
LIU held CCSU to 0.992 points per possession (67 points/71 possessions) and now has made it four of their last five games in which they held their opponent to under a point per possession defensively.
The Blackbirds forced 16 CCSU turnovers and did a great job convert those turnovers into points. LIU scored 26 points off of those turnovers.
LIU got up by much as 17 in the first half before CCSU closed the half on a 13-4 run to get within eight at halftime. CCSU got as close of five in the second half and then an Aakim Saintil three-point play help reverse the momentum back to LIU and they would get the lead back to double figures and would coast the rest of the way.
“We knew Central Connecticut was going to be a tough game.” said LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri. “They play hard, they’re not just playing zone. We had to be back to a few things. Mount (St. Mary’s) is just such a different animal where you can’t really move the ball and there is a lot of driving trying to score it. You just get your mindset back to ball movement and driving and kicking and we start the game off really well.”
Behind Frink, LIU got a great second half output from Martin Hermannsson who finished with another efficient 17 points on just eight shots taken along with a game-high six assists. Hermannsson continues his solid play since the end of the fall semester with his fourth straight game of at least 17 points or more. Perri knows if there is one guy he doesn’t have to ever worry about, it is Hermannsson.
“He listens.” Perri said of Hermannsson. “I talked about driving and kicking and he was making the right play. He only took three shots (in the first half). That was what the game called for when you’re up like that. He is going to get his shots, that is not going to be an issue. He is very efficient, he was 5 for 8 tonight and six assists. He is just a really good player and he makes his free throws.”
Aakim Saintil finally broke a three-game streak of single-digit scoring games with 16 points also on an efficient eight shots and also dished out five assists. Joel Hernandez brings his double-digit scoring streak up to three with 11 points. Nura Zanna who didn’t have a good game against the Mount on Saturday, had a strong game with six points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Blue Devils were led by 15 points from sophomore Mustafa Jones and 14 points from freshman sharpshooter Austin Nehls who hit 4 of 6 three-pointers as CCSU has now 0-2 in the NEC and has lost 17 of their last 20 NEC games going back to last season.
The Blackbirds now return back home to Brooklyn for the regular Thursday-Saturday slate of NEC games as they will host Robert Morris and surprising fast-starting St. Francis U this week. If the Blackbirds can take care of business at home, LIU get themselves off to a nice start after week one before heading back on the road for another three-game stretch beginning next week.
All road wins in the NEC are huge and this season, with the league looking like it is going to be closely contested, they all matter even more so it was good for LIU to get the win on the road and start preparing for two challenging games coming up at the Steinberg Wellness Center.