It had been well over a month since the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball team lasted played on their home floor on campus. The Blackbirds didn’t get the return home they were looking for.
Dartmouth, who came to Brooklyn winless at 0-9, left with their first win of the season with an 82-68 victory at the Steinberg Wellness Center on Sunday afternoon.
Last season, Dartmouth beat up on LIU in a 79-56 win and it was pretty much a replay of that same game.
The Big Green took the game to LIU from pretty much the opening tip. The Blackbirds came out of the gate looking flat for whatever reason and could never seem to get things going at all throughout the game especially in the second half.
Dartmouth junior guard Miles Wright probably wishes he could play LIU every game.
Just like in last season’s meeting in which Wright tore LIU up for a career-high 39 points, he had his shot working once again and torched the Blackbirds for a season-high 25 points, going 10 of 17 from the floor and draining five of his seven three-pointers. His previous high this season was 16. In fact, his two highest scoring games of his career both came against the Blackbirds.
LIU were able to hold Dartmouth’s leading scorer Evan Bourdeaux to a season-low seven points, all of which came in the decisive second half.
Even with the slow start by LIU, they were only down four at halftime after a great play by Julian Batts who stole the Dartmouth inbound pass and converted a layup right before the halftime buzzer.
But LIU just couldn’t muster up anything on the Big Green in the second half as LIU seem to trade two-pointers for Dartmouth threes which the Blackbirds had no answer for and help balloon their deficit to twenty at one point.
LIU lost this game due to three parts. One, awful three-point defense as Dartmouth roasted LIU from deep, making 11 of 23 threes. Two, LIU couldn’t buy a three in this game as they went 2 for 10. Three, LIU missed 12 of 22 free throws while sending Dartmouth to the charity stripe 30 times in which they converted on 23 attempts.
Oddly enough, LIU’s two bigs, Nura Zanna and Jerome Frink, both had themselves a good game. The duo combined to go 16 for 23 from the field.
Zanna finished with his third straight double-double and fifth overall with a season-high tying 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds and played 31 minutes. Frink led LIU with 22 points. LIU dominated the points in the paint 50-26.
The problem was LIU couldn’t get any outside scoring to complement the strong inside game.
Iverson Fleming who was coming off a strong performance at Minnesota, scored 12 points but committed a game-high six turnovers and shot just two three-pointers. The rest of LIU combined for 19 points and shot a combined 8 for 28.
Dartmouth scored a nice 1.12 points per possession (82 pts/73 poss) while holding LIU to just 0.93 PPP (68/73).
After the loss to Minnesota, LIU’s KenPom rankings actually took it biggest increase going from 285 to 266 due to the unexpected closeness of the loss. With this loss to Dartmouth, LIU’s KenPom ranking took a nosedive from 266 all the way down to 293 which is close to the ranking they had entering the St. John’s game last weekend.
Thankfully for LIU, they won’t be seeing Dartmouth anytime soon as they complete their home-and-home series, going 0 for 2.
LIU will close out non-conference play at the Barclays Center on Wednesday evening as they host Niagara in an LIU women’s/men’s basketball doubleheader.
LIU will try to build some momentum to carry over into the start of NEC play next week and try to snap out of their current losing funk they’re in which has seen them lose four out of their last five games after their 6-1 start.