It is always tricky when NEC teams, especially those in the tri-state area as well as Bryant, have to make the long bus trip to Western Pennsylvania to face Robert Morris and Saint Francis U on the road. Teams from out east usually never look forward to the multiple-hour ride to Moon Township and Loretto.
LIU Brooklyn this weekend made the journey out west to face Robert Morris on Thursday and Saint Francis U. on Saturday and left Western Pennsylvania with a pair of impressive road wins, defeating RMU 65-54 and defeating SFU 83-70.
On Thursday evening, LIU used an impressive second half to take a five-point halftime lead and turning it into a 20-point rout before coasting to an 11-point victory on the Colonials’ home floor.
LIU absolutely dominated RMU in the paint and on the boards. LIU outscored RMU in the paint 44-24 and dominated the rebounding department 43-20 as LIU grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to just 3 for the Colonials.
RMU played without starting senior point guard Kavon Stewart who was suspended for the game by RMU head coach Andy Toole for violation of team rules.
Without Stewart, freshman Clive Allen started in his place and didn’t have a real impact as he scored five points and had four assists with a pair of turnovers.
Isaiah Still, who is RMU’s leading scorer tried to pick up the slack for the missing Stewart but ended up playing probably his worst game of the season as he had a miserable night shooting, going 2 for 14 from the field and also 2 of 6 from the free-throw line and finished with just seven points.
LIU’s front line once again had another big night as Jerome Frink led all scorers with 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season while teammate Nura Zanna who didn’t get the start after his ejection from the game the game prior against Bryant, came off the bench to collect his seventh double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
“Clearly LIU deserved to win the game.” RMU head coach Andy Toole said in his postgame press conference. “(They) played better than us, wanted to win more than us.”
Jashaun Agosto and Iverson Fleming each finished with eleven points. LIU did struggle from three making just 2 of 14 from deep, both makes coming in the second half.
LIU continued on to Loretto on Saturday and once again came up big in the second half as the Blackbirds outscored the Red Flash 45-30 to erase a two-point halftime deficit.
Four Blackbirds finished in double figures led again by Jerome Frink who collected his seventh double-double of the season with a game-high 21 points and 11 boards. Nura Zanna returned to the starting lineup and got his NEC-leading eighth double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Iverson Fleming finished with 17 points in just 19 minutes due to foul trouble. Raiquan Clark had his best game in an LIU Brooklyn uniform with 10 points and 7 rebounds, both career-highs. Six of those seven rebounds were on the offensive end.
The Blackbirds used the same formula which worked against RMU against SFU in which they dominated the paint and the glass. LIU outrebounded SFU 42-28 and grabbed ten more offensive rebounds than their counterparts. They also outscored SFU 44-24 in the paint.
LIU was down nine in the first half and were in danger of letting it get away but they got back in it with a 14-7 run in the final four minutes to keep it a game.
LIU would later go on a 20-6 run midway through the second half to go from down one to up thirteen to take full control of the game.
Isaiah Blackmon led SFU with 19 points. Josh Nebo, the NEC’s leading shot blocker, scored 14 points but had zero blocked shots.
With the win, LIU finished the week 2-0 on the Western Pennsylvania trip and have won three straight and move to 3-1 in NEC play, tied for second place with Mount St. Mary’s and a game behind 4-0 Fairleigh Dickinson.
Think about this. LIU is a Chris Wray buzzer-beater away from being 4-0 in conference and sit in a good position as they return to the Steinberg Wellness Center for the next three games. Unfortunately for LIU, students don’t return back to campus until January 17th when the spring semester begins.
LIU hosts Central Connecticut and St. Francis Brooklyn next week and will look to try and solidify their standing in the top four and maybe gain ground towards the top of the conference.
LIU Brooklyn’s KenPom rating is now at 246 which is a season-high and now just trail Wagner (223) and Mount St. Mary’s (233). LIU has moved up from 297 after the Mount St. Mary’s loss.