Basketball is a funny game sometimes. You just never know when the unexpected will rear its head and totally throw you for a loop. That is what happened Saturday afternoon in LIU Brooklyn’s impressive 79-61 victory at Bryant which puts them back at 3-3 in the NEC and back over .500 for the season at 8-7.
Jerome Frink and Martin Hermannsson were one and two in scoring for the Blackbirds coming into the game and neither were one were in the top three in scoring in a game in which LIU won by eighteen points. That was one of several crazy happening for LIU in this game.
Sophomore Trevin Woods, who came into the game averaging 1.8 points per game, who had made just 3 of 25 three-point attempts this season, went wild for the Blackbirds. He hit his first three shots of the game, all threes, to match his season total in a span of one minute and fifty seconds to take a game which was tied at 19 and helped push LIU to as high as 19-point lead in the first half. He made four of six threes in the first half and didn’t stop there. He made two more in the second half to finish with six three-pointers and a career-high 20 points. His previous high was 13 points in a game he had against Robert Morris last season.
LIU as a team made ten threes in the game, which was the most since making twelve threes against UMass Lowell back in early December.
The Blackbirds were finally able to break the point per possession mark offensively for the second time in their last nine games and their 1.14 points per possession (79 points/70 possessions) was their highest points per possession mark of the season.
LIU also played a great game defensive, as they held the Bulldogs to just 61 points and allowed Bryant to score 0.855 points per possession which was their second-lowest mark of the season behind the 0.746 ppp they allowed to Incarnate Word back in December. LIU’s 2-3 zone in particular was giving the Bulldogs issues as LIU’s zone was very aggressive on Bryant shooters in particular Shane McLaughlin and Hunter Ware who were a combined 5 for 19 from the field.
Aakim Saintil once again had a solid game for the Blackbirds to cap a good weekend for the LIU point guard. He followed his 27-point career night against Wagner Thursday with 16 points versus the Bulldogs.
Joel Hernandez also had a good game for LIU with 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting and even more importantly 5 of 6 from the free throw line for 15 points. Hernandez come in this week’s game shooting 55 percent from the foul line and in his two games this week made 7 of 9 from the free throw line which is very good step in the right direction for him.
Jerome Frink and Martin Hermannsson took a bit of a back seat offensively for LIU as their teammates stepped up in a big way. Frink scored 12 points with ten points coming the second half and also grabbed seven rebounds. Hermannsson scored eleven and dished out eight assists having to play several key minutes at point guard in the first half after Saintil went to the bench with two fouls.
Also, freshman Raul Frias, who coming into the weekend, was one player that was in consideration in getting some more minutes in light of LIU’s need for more outside shooting, played a season-high 18 minutes although he did not score in his two shot attempts but did contribute a steal and assist and had no turnovers.
Bryant got a great game from freshman big man Marcel Pettway who finished with his second-straight double-double and fifth overall this season with a team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds in playing 39 minutes. The big man made 10 of 14 shots in the game. Hunter Ware struggled shooting, going 4 of 16 and finished with 14 points. Freshman Nisre Zouzoua scored 13 points but played only 25 minutes due to foul trouble. Bryant was held to 36.7% shooting from the field and now fall to 4-2 in the NEC and fall out of the group of first-place teams.
LIU with the big 2-0 week on the road against teams who were in first-place when they played them and are now back in the mix in the NEC standings and rebounded from what was an ugly 0-2 week at home last weekend. At 3-3, LIU is now three-way tie for third with St. Francis Brooklyn and Saint Francis U.
This current three-game road gauntlet is not done yet. They will visit Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday who are 4-2 and have been one of the early surprises in the NEC so far.
If LIU can get a win on Thursday and can go into their four-game home stand which starts next Saturday night on a winning streak, things could be looking up for the Blackbirds. But as we know, LIU has only been able to put a win streak of three games together once this season which was all the way back at the beginning of the season. There is a good opportunity for them to get some big momentum going for them but they have one more tough game to get by to make it happen. A win on Thursday would go a long way in helping them to get to where they want to be at the end of the season.