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’Birds Bounce Back

LIU Recovers Quickly Following First Loss in 10 Games

By John Torenli
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

LIU-Brooklyn men’s basketball coach Jim Ferry admitted that “revenge” may have been a contributing factor in Robert Morris’s dismantling of the Blackbirds last Thursday night in Moon Township, Penn.

“Robert Morris played at a high level,” Ferry said after LIU saw its season-high nine-game winning streak snapped with a 75-66 loss to the Colonials in a rematch of last year’s Northeast Conference Championship game.

“They set the tone for this basketball game,” he told The Beaver County Times. “For whatever reason — maybe because they haven’t played as well as they expected this season or maybe it was revenge for last year’s championship game — they played with a great sense of urgency. They know how to win. They showed tonight that they can play at a championship level.”

The loss certainly pointed out how tenuous LIU’s shot at returning to the NCAA Tournament is after they snapped a 14-year March Madness drought with an overtime victory over Robert Morris at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center in 2011.

Even though they had won 18 consecutive conference games and were considered the clear favorite to capture another NEC crown, the Blackbirds (14-7 overall, 9-1 NEC) got a reality check from the Colonials (7-3 NEC), who currently sit in fourth place in the tightly packed conference.

“It was all Robert Morris. They controlled the tempo. They defended with great purpose,” Ferry added, perhaps trying to remind his unit how easily their grip on first place can slip away.

Whatever the message, the Blackbirds responded with great zeal Saturday night in Loretto, Penn., taking their frustrations out on overmatched St. Francis (Pa.) with a resounding 97-76 triumph.

Sophomore point guard Jason Brickman set the table for LIU, handing out a career-best 12 assists as five Blackbirds reached double figures in scoring.

Junior forward Jamal Olasewere, who recently became the 31st player in school history to eclipse the 1,000-point milestone, dominated the interior, scoring a game-high 26 points to go with 10 rebounds.  

Fellow third-year starter Julian Boyd added 17 points, Kenny Onyechi had 12 off the bench, Brandon Thompson finished with 11 and C.J. Garner poured in 10 as LIU stayed one game in front of Wagner (8-2) and neighborhood rival St. Francis (8-2) for first place in the NEC.

The Blackbirds, who have won 19 in a row at home, will be back at the WRAC tomorrow night at 7 p.m., when they host Bryant.

Of course, LIU’s most-anticipated game of the season is only a week away, as the Battle for Brooklyn series will commence at Madison Square Garden next Wednesday.

St. Francis, eager to establish itself as a serious contender for the NCAAs following the Blackbirds’ magical run to the tournament last year, kept pace with LIU on Saturday by beating Robert Morris 81-68 at the Seawall Center just two nights after Ferry’s unit was run out of the building.

Sophomore point guard Brent Jones scored a career-high 19 points, including 16 in the second half, and junior forward Travis Nichols had 16 off the bench for the Terriers, who climbed above the .500 mark at 11-10.

Freshman sensation Jalen Cannon had his fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds as St. Francis used a 10-0 second-half run to erase a six-point deficit.

Senior forward Stefan Perunicic moved into 10th place on the all-time NEC list with his 265th career 3-pointer during the contest, but was limited to just 10 minutes of action due to foul trouble.

With their leading scorer absent for most of the night, the Terriers proved they are much more than a one-trick pony en route to their eighth victory in 10 games.

Central Connecticut State will visit Remsen Street’s Pope Center on Thursday night.

* * *
Brooklyn College gave a tough effort against highly touted William Patterson on Monday night at the West Quad Center, but ultimately succumbed in a physically grueling 80-72 loss to the Pioneers, who were ranked 20th in the most recent Division III college hoops poll.

In a game that featured a combined 78 free-throw attempts, including 47 by the home team, the Bulldogs (12-7) were out-rebounded by a stunning 51-31 margin, offsetting the 32 turnovers they forced.

Senior Tyshawn Russell scored 24 points, hitting 18-of-21 free throws, and Kieran Halton added 14 points for BC, which went a dismal 3-of-23 from 3-point range.

The Bulldogs will visit Brooklyn rival Medgar Evers tonight in a key CUNYAC South Division battle.  

* * *
Junior Brendon Henry and freshman Evan Azzam each scored 12 points Saturday, but it wasn’t enough as NYU-Polytechnic dropped a 63-51 decision to Mount Saint Vincent, where current Jays coach Nolan Adams worked before heading to Downtown Brooklyn.

NYU-Poly (1-16, 1-11 Skyline) will be back in action tonight at Yeshiva.

* * *
The LIU-Brooklyn women continued to struggle in conference play Monday night at Robert Morris, suffering a 63-57 loss to the Colonials that dropped them into a three-way tie for the coveted eighth and final NEC Tournament spot.
Seniors Kiara Evans and She’tiarra Pledger poured in 12 points apiece for the Blackbirds, who boast a 15-7 overall mark despite their disappointing conference record.

Coach Gail Striegler will have plenty to work on this week as the Blackbirds prepare for Saturday’s home showdown with visiting Central Connecticut State, which is also vying for the eighth spot at 4-6.

Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

* * *
The St. Francis women stormed back from a 20-point deficit Monday night in Loretto, Penn., only to endure a 60-51 defeat to St. Francis (Pa.)

Jasmin Robinson and Jessica Kaufman had 10 points apiece for the Terriers, who fell to 2-18 overall and 2-8 in the NEC.

St. Francis will host Bryant at the Pope Center on Saturday at 2 p.m.

* * *
A visit from CCNY provided a taste of “Seventh Heaven” for the women of Brooklyn College, who cruised to a 68-39 rout of the Beavers at the West Quad Center on Saturday afternoon.

Senior guard Lauren Plagainos scored a game-high 14 points in only 26 minutes and super freshman Nicole Francomano dished out a game-high seven assists to go with nine points and three steals while playing turnover-free basketball for the Lady Bulldogs (15-5).

With its seventh consecutive win overall, BC remained perfect in CUNYAC action at 8-0, giving coach Alex Lang’s squad the inside track to the top overall seed in the conference tournament.

“I thought that the bench played very well in today’s win,” said Lang after clearing his entire 13-woman bench during the contest.  “I think that with every game our chemistry is growing and we are developing a better understand of how to play together.”

BC will try to keep its perfect conference record intact this evening at Medgar Evers prior to the men’s contest between the Brooklyn CUNYAC rivals.

                                                   ************  

The NYU-Poly women fell to 7-12 with a 63-39 loss against Ramapo College on Monday despite 22 points and 12 rebounds from senior Margaux Pickell.

The Lady Jays will host Yeshiva University at Downtown’s Jacobs Gymnasium on Wednesday night.

Read next Wednesday’s Eagle for an in-depth preview of the LIU-St. Francis Battle for Brooklyn game at Madison Square Garden or log on to www.brooklyneagle.com

Captions:
Olasewere

LIU-Brooklyn forward Jamal Olasewere had 26 points and 10 boards in Saturday’s victory at St. Francis (Penn.).

Jones

Sophomore Brent Jones’ big second half catapulted St. Francis to another victory Saturday night.

Francomanno

Freshman guard Nicole Francomanno helped BC remain perfect in CUNYAC Conference action.  

Photo by Damion Reid.

February 1, 2012 - 2:53pm


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