It’s tough to say a game that proved to be the midway point of the conference season as a must-win but for LIU Brooklyn, that what it pretty much was. LIU, at home, coming off of two second half disappointments in losses, needed to get back on track in the worst way. Well, they did just that, with a 92-84 win at the Steinberg Wellness Center Wednesday night.
LIU Brooklyn needed a strong performance because Sacred Heart got a virtuoso performance from sophomore standout Cane Broome, who dropped 38 points, a season-high among all NEC scorers this season. Broome, who had to take on more responsibility on the offensive end as Sacred Heart was without freshman Quincy McKnight who was suspended by SHU head coach Anthony Latina for a violation of team rules and was left back on campus.
Without McKnight, Broome did all he could but the Blackbirds got four players to score in double-digits led by Jerome Frink’s huge double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds and also had four blocked shots.
Frink led the charge for the Blackbirds in the first half with 17 points and 7 rebounds yet LIU was only up by six after, who else but Cane Broome, went coast-to-coast with a layup to beat the halftime buzzer.
After the Pioneers cut LIU’s lead down to one less than two minutes into the second half, LIU went on a 10-0 run to get their largest lead of the game and seemingly appearing like they were about to put the game away. Yet, Sacred Heart would answer back with a 10-0 run of their own to get back within two, thanks to a 8-0 personal run by Pios’ freshman guard Sean Hoehn.
The LIU lead ballooned up and down, going up to 8 and then back down to 2, back up to 6 before five straight points by Broome tied the game up at 77 with over three minutes left to play.
Aakim Saintil came up with a couple of big baskets for LIU and the Blackbirds hit 9 out of 10 free throws down the stretch to hold off the Pioneers and in the process snapping LIU’s four-game slide at the Steinberg Wellness Center.
LIU shot 17 of 29 from the field in the second half and were 16 of 23 on their two-point shots in the half. LIU held Sacred Heart to under 40 percent shooting in the game while shooting 50 percent themselves. LIU scored a season-high 1.192 points/possession (92 pts/77 possessions).
“It was a good bounce back game, certainly on the offensive end.” said LIU head coach Jack Perri.
LIU in the last three games have scored 95 points (loss), 49 points (loss) and 92 points (win).
Besides the huge game from Frink, Martin Hermannsson had himself a great game. His stat line for the night: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 0 turnovers. How impressive of a game was that for Hermannsson? He was just the third player in Division I this season to have a 20/7/7/5 stat line, and he joins some big time company in LSU’s Ben Simmons and Providence’s Kris Dunn as the other two players to accomplish the feat and the first player to do with no turnovers since 2010-11.
“Martin Hermannsson, Jerome Frink obviously played more to their potential.” said Perri of his two top scorers.
“Last week was tough.” said Hermannsson of their two losses last week. “We felt we should have won both of those games. I didn’t necessarily think we played bad last week, we talked about it before the game, we have to come out in the second half, we have been struggling in the second halves so far this season. I think we did a pretty good job today. It was a crucial win. We needed that win.”
Joel Hernandez had another solid outing with 15 points and six rebounds, his fourth consecutive double-digit game. Saintil finished with 14 points, all in the second half. Iverson Fleming playing in his first game since January 9th against Saint Francis U. after not coming off the bench in LIU’s last four games. He played seven minutes.
“Joel Hernandez has been starting to be very consistent for us which I have been excited to see.” said Perri. “I was able to get guys a little bit more rest in the first half and I think that maybe helped for the second half in us making plays. We went to some zone because we had trouble guarding (Broome) but he decided to hit six threes also and score 38, the kid is a superstar. He is awesome and if you don’t have great focus on him, he is going to pick you apart.”
“We tried to stop Broome but he took 25 shots and he had 38 points. He is a great player.” said Hermannsson of Broome.
Besides Broome’s 38 points, Sean Hoehn scored a new career-high 19 points for the Pioneers. Senior Jordan Allen finished with ten points as Sacred Heart falls to 4-5 in NEC play.
With the win, LIU breaks their two-game losing streak and are now tied with Sacred Heart for eighth-place for now in the NEC standings. LIU is now 1-1 on their current four-game home stand.
LIU next face Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday and will look to exact some revenge on the Knights who beat the Blackbirds just last Thursday in a 101-95 shootout in Hackensack as LIU will look to even up their NEC record once again and try to climb up another rung up the standings and get out of the 8/9 seed area they are currently hanging around at.