It was supposed to be a premier matchup between two of the three first-place teams in the Northeast Conference entering today. But Fairleigh Dickinson came with their explosive offense and added a strong defensive game and took advantage of LIU Brooklyn miscues in the first half to open up a healthy lead which LIU couldn’t overcome and snapped the Blackbirds six-game win streak with an impressive 83-66 win at the Stratis Arena in Teaneck, NJ.
LIU lead for all of 15 seconds in this game in the early stages as FDU were quick to take advantage of LIU turnovers and turn them into points.
LIU were able to stay with the Knights even after going cold from the field due to FDU’s foul woes that saw LIU reach the double bonus with 10:46 left in the first half.
But even then LIU had no answer for FDU’s backcourt of Stephan Jiggetts and notorious LIU killer Darian Anderson who once again took it to the Blackbirds offensively.
Anderson led all scorers with 25 points while Jiggetts put in 14 points as the two well-experience Knights took advantage of the LIU freshman backcourt. The pair also had a combined 11 assists to just two turnovers.
“Their guards really hurt us on penetration.” LIU Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri said of the FDU guards. “We have to do a better job containing the ball. We have been doing that and in this game, we just didn’t. I think we were worried about their some of their shooting so we were strung out a little too much and they ended up getting some drives and going to the basket more than anything else.”
FDU also dominated the paint on LIU 32-20 due in part to aggressive post defense and Nura Zanna getting into foul trouble in the first half and playing just 23 minutes in the game.
The officiating in this game was quite frankly, terrible for both teams. There were 49 total fouls called by the officials and 27 of those in the second half which resulted in four players, two on each team, to foul out.
Redshirt senior Jerome Frink did as much as he could to keep LIU in it and finished with a double-double, 20 points, and 10 rebounds but he didn’t get much help as FDU didn’t let any other Blackbird player go off.
Freshman Jashaun Agosto who was outstanding in LIU’s win over Wagner Thursday night finished with 11 points but made only 2 of his 9 shots against FDU.
Senior Iverson Fleming had a game to forget. He finished scoreless for the first time this season and for the first time since the season finale last season against Wagner in the NEC tournament. He fouled out for the second time this season and played just 23 minutes, going 0 of 7 from the field.
LIU shot just 33 percent in the game and finished 5 of 19 from three and scored 0.92 points per possession. LIU allowed FDU to shoot 54 percent and 8 of 23 from three and gave up 1.15 points per possession.
More impressively, FDU played without junior forward Earl Potts Jr. for the third straight game as he is dealing with another injury and was seen on the FDU bench in street clothes.
“They are a really good. They are picked to win the league for a reason.” Perri said. “They defend. They played really, really hard. I was impressed with how hard they played on the defensive end.”
The loss for LIU drops them from the top at 6-2 and puts them behind both Mount St. Mary’s (7-1) and FDU (7-1) as the conference season approaches the midway point. LIU’s two losses are to both the two teams in first place. LIU is firmly planted in third place going into the NEC second half next week as they remain two games clear of two fourth-place teams in Wagner (4-4) and Saint Francis U. (4-4).
Although it was quite a humbling loss for LIU Brooklyn, it is just one game and it was on the road against a very good team picked to win the conference in the preseason and are the defending NEC champs.
LIU will meet the Knights again on February 11th where they will get their opportunity to face them again but on their home court at the Steinberg Wellness Center. Before then LIU will play four games and will try to rebuild momentum once again and get things back on track.
“This is the team we have to try and get through if we want to accomplish something special. We knew that.” Perri said. “We talked it that they are in our way and they are still in our way. Obviously, we felt good with the way we played against Wagner and this was going to be another difficult challenge and now we move on and we have to get back to the way we were playing and defending.”