Blackbirds return the favor on St. Francis Brooklyn in 82-67 President’s Day Victory

LIUs Martin Hermannsson once again put in an all-around performance in helping LIU get revenge for an early loss against St. Francis Brooklyn Monday afternoon. Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ

LIU’s Martin Hermannsson once again put in an all-around performance in helping LIU get revenge for an early loss against St. Francis Brooklyn Monday afternoon. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

It had been thirty days between back-to-back victories for the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team. With five games left on their regular season schedule and the Blackbirds looking to make a late-season charge, the time is now for LIU to start putting wins together.

LIU got the job done and beat St. Francis Brooklyn in front of a nationally televised audience Monday afternoon at the Pope Center, 82-67, and in the process, got their first back-to-back wins in a month.

Joel Hernandez getting into the lane in LIUs win over SFBK. Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ

Joel Hernandez getting into the lane in LIUs win over SFBK. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

With the victory, LIU Brooklyn are now .500 in NEC play at 7-7 and creep back over .500 overall at 13-12. The win puts them in a tie with St. Francis Brooklyn for sixth-place in the NEC standings and put them one game behind fifth-place Sacred Heart and two games back of four first-place teams in the conference with four games remaining.

The win over St. Francis Brooklyn also snaps a four-game losing streak to their cross-Fulton Street rivals.

LIU used an outstanding first half on both ends to build a twelve-point halftime lead. The Blackbirds held the Terriers to .818 points per possession in the first half while pouring in 1.18 points per possession.

In the second half, as St. Francis Brooklyn tried to get back in the game, the Blackbirds seemed to have an answer for each and every Terrier run. The Terriers never got any closer than eight points in the second half. A 9-2 run by LIU late in the game completed by a Nura Zanna monster two-hand slam, gave LIU their largest lead of seventeen and it was pretty much over after that.

LIU finished with 1.174 points per possession and marked the sixth-straight game they have eclipsed the one-point per possession mark. In their last three wins, including this victory, LIU has held their opponents to under a point per possession.

The Blackbirds have started ratcheting up the tempo in their games of late, getting the possession numbers into the high 70’s and low 80’s which is a pretty high pace. They used that uptempo play as well as forcing the Terriers to settle for more perimeter shots than they might have wanted to take to keep the game at a comfortable margin through the entire second half.

Also, the detail to the defensive end against a team who are one of the better defensive teams in the conference but has had their struggle at times at the offensive end was a big key to getting this huge road victory.

Jerome Frink finished with 15 points for his 20th straight double-digit scoring game. Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ

Jerome Frink finished with 15 points for his 20th straight double-digit scoring game. Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ

“We tried to match (St. Francis’) tone on defense because offensively we know can get what we want.” said Frink. “We been focusing a lot on defense in practice the last few weeks. It is getting closer (to the end of the season), I believe we are all in sync right now, everybody knows where to go and things like that.”

“Our keys to the game was take away their threes especially at home, they have been lights out.” said LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri. “For our guys to have that mindset to make them cross the three-point line and do a good job of that and contest those threes hard. I think we made them miss instead of hoping they would miss.”

The Blackbirds used a balanced attack with four players finishing in double-figures led by the red-hot Martin Hermannsson who is in the midst of playing his best basketball as a Blackbird. The Icelandic guard has been putting up amazing all-around numbers especially over his last six games in which his scoring average has increased by over a full point per game to nearly 16 points per game.

Hermannsson finished with a line of 19 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists as well as 5 steals with zero turnovers. This was the eighth time a Division I player had that type of line this season, Hermannsson is the only player to not just do it twice but also the only player to do without a single turnover in either game. Both occasions have come during this hot six-game span.

With the number of games being to dwindle, Hermannsson knows that now is the time for LIU to make a late-season run.

“Every game from now on is huge for us.” said Hermannsson. “We were one game behind St. Francis before this one so we knew we had to come out and be energized, stay together, play good defense and that’s what we did. We had four losses in a row against this team and I’ve never beaten the two other Icelanders on their team, so I was focused before the game and I wanted that win really badly.”

Four players finished in double figures for the 7-7 Terriers. Chris Hooper finished with 15 points off the bench to lead St. Francis Brooklyn. Yunus Hopkinson finished with 13 points along with five assists but committed four turnovers as well. Antonio Jenifer scored 12 points and Jon Doss scored ten.

Martin Hermannsson play over his last six games is putting him in the All-NEC first team conversation. Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ

Martin Hermannsson’s play over his last six games is putting him in the All-NEC first team conversation. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

Besides another strong game from Hermannsson, Jerome Frink and Joel Hernandez both finished with 15 points. Frink extended his streak of double-digit games to 20 straight games. Hernandez was 7 of 9 from the field and was a marksman with his mid-range jumper which probably has been the most impressive part of his game this season. He has become very consistent with that fifteen to eighteen-foot jumper.

Also, Aakim Saintil had a solid game with eleven points and eight assists and did a good job defending Hopkinson who was coming into the game red-hot.

“It was our biggest game because it was our next game. That’s the reality of it.” said Perri. “We’re starting to play the way we envisioned our guys playing and that is two games in a row. Hopefully, we can keep going in the right direction but I think that was a pretty complete game both defensively and offensively.”

Now, the real road part of this three-game road trip is upcoming for the Blackbirds as they get set to go their annual Western Pennsylvania, long-bus ride trip to Robert Morris and Saint Francis U. and doing it with a couple of days less rest than in the past due to playing in this Monday matinee.

LIU Brooklyn should be all-business on this trip as they have lost to both teams at home earlier this season and would love nothing but to get back at both teams and beat them at their place while keeping their momentum for a late-season surge. RMU is right on LIU’s tail, one game back in the standings and would love nothing more than to boost themselves while putting an ill-time dagger into LIU’s top four chances.

“This win gives us a huge energy boost.” said Hermannsson. “We are going on two tough road games coming up and I think these two wins are going to help us alot. We been talking about it all year that we wanted to peak at the end. Robert Morris did this last year, they were up and down all season then they peaked at the end and that is what we’re trying to do this year. We took care of the ball against a really good defensive team.”

“That is what we want, obviously we talk about that.” said Perri. “But the reality is we have one game at Robert Morris which they beat us at our place and it is a game that I think we’re going to have to play really, really well there coming off of two wins themselves. We’re going to have to go on a bus, travel for six or seven hours and go out there and hopefully play the same way we played the last two games.”

At this time of the season, every game matters. This was a nice start to looking like a very important week ahead for LIU Brooklyn.

Comments

  1. good job fellas keep it rolling

  2. Dan From Staten Island says:

    Both LIU and St. Francis Brooklyn travel out to Pennsylvania for their next two games. The Terriers have already beaten both St. Francis (PA) and Robert Morris at home, but that doesn’t mean a thing in NEC play. They had beaten the Blackbirds at LIU as well, but we all know how that particular rematch went in Brooklyn Heights on Monday — just the opposite. These Conference games are so unpredictable. The NEC is generally very close, but this year it’s been unbelievably tough to assess. You’ve got to come ready to play every night.

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