A game that only be best described as the epitome of a tell of two halves game, LIU Brooklyn did just enough in the second half to hold on to win at Hartford Wednesday night, 75-68, after leading by 22 points at halftime.
LIU Brooklyn used probably one of their best halves of the season in the first half, taking advantage of opportunities given to them by the porous Hartford defense. LIU shot 53 precent from the floor in half number one and made seven of eleven three-pointers while holding the Hawks to just 26 percent shooting to build as high as a 23-point lead before taking a 22-point lead into the locker room at the break.
The second half was a total role reversal as the Hawks came out of the break on fire while LIU kept turning the ball over and taking bad shots to help Hartford go on a 21-8 run to close to within nine of LIU in just under seven minutes.
Another 12-1 Hawks run put them within three of LIU with 7:15 remaining and it was looking like LIU was going to completely fold but Jerome Frink and Iverson Fleming scored the next six points for LIU to give them some breathing room.
Hartford would once again get the deficit back to three after a four-point possession which resulted from a Jerome Frink flagrant foul as he grabbed Hartford’s J.R. Lynch from behind as he was about to have a clear breakaway to the hoop.
Sophomore Raul Frias cashed in a huge jumper with 1:55 left to give LIU a five-point lead but again Hartford got within a possession of LIU on the next possession but LIU was able to make their free throws in the final minute along with an Iverson Fleming layup to win somewhat comfortably.
Here are a few observations I had from Wednesday’s night game.
- Jerome Frink has turned on the beast mode. Frink for the second straight game carried LIU offensively, going for 28 points on 11 of 16 shooting. He scored exactly half of LIU’s second half points. All this coming after a 27-point performance against UMass Lowell. He is 22 for his last 34 attempts and averaging 27.5 points per game over the last two games. In his previous four games, Frink was just averaging 13.5 points per game.
- Raul Frias finally make some shots. Frias who has started every game for LIU since Joel Hernandez went down with the finger injury in the season opener, had not really done much with his opportunity thus far until Wednesday night when he hit his first three shots, all from deep, and finished with a career-high 14 points as he went four of six from downtown. He also made a crucial jumper late to held hold off the charging Hawks. He also left points out there by going 1 of 6 from two-point range including missing a pair of layups he has got to convert. Yet, it was encouraging to see the Miami native play well.
- Jashaun Agosto shot not falling but playing mostly mistake-free. After being named NEC Rookie of the Week on November 21st, Agosto has struggled shooting the ball over the last two games including going 1 for 10 in this game versus Hartford. Agosto is now 2 for his last 20 over the last two games after a decent shooting start to his LIU career, making 39 percent of his shots in his five games. Even though, he has struggled shooting the ball, Agosto has done a good job at the point. He finished with six assists to just one turnover in 36 minutes against Hartford and through seven games, has a 2.1:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
- Nura Zanna just can’t find consistency due to foul woes. The same old story continues for Zanna. A game after having his best game of the season so far against UMass Lowell where he went for 15 points and 12 rebounds in a season-high 34 minutes, Zanna quickly reverted back to his foul-prone self and played just 18 minutes after picking up two quick fouls in the first half. Zanna could be among one of the most dominating big men in the NEC but as long as he continues to hack away and commit some rather silly fouls and continue putting himself on the bench, he is going to be more liability than reliability which only adds to the frustration of the LIU coaching staff who want to see him finally reach a level of consistency that they are going to need from him as they move into the NEC season.
- Pressure got to the young guys. In the second half, Hartford went to a full-court press to try and get themselves back in it after being down 22 at the half and it worked. LIU didn’t handle the pressure too well and turned the ball frequently. In the times they did get the ball over mid-court, they took several bad shots which also helped the Hawks. Luckily, it didn’t cost them this time but it is something that they are going to have to work on in practice as the season moves on.
- Fouling WAY too much. Jack Perri can’t be pleased with the amount of fouls his team continues to commit. LIU committed 24 fouls versus Hartford. The Blackbirds are second in the NEC only behind Bryant in total fouls with 154 fouls committed. That is 22 fouls per game through seven games. That is way too many fouls. They got to cut back on all the fouls.
LIU Brooklyn with the win, move to 6-1 on the season and are off to their best seven-game start to a season since the 1971-72 LIU team which went on to a 7-1 start that season. LIU is also 4-1 through five games of their current seven-game road trip.
LIU will finally leave New England behind and will head south to a state they are very familiar with in Texas as LIU will face Incarnate Word on Saturday afternoon as look to continue their hot start to the season.