Blackbirds’ Inside Duo Dominating Interior as LIU Extends Win Streak
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Redshirt senior Jerome Frink and junior forward Nura Zanna are emerging as the chairmen of the boards in the Northeast Conference thus far this season.
Or at the very least, secretaries of the interior.
The bruising tandem once again dominated the paint over the weekend in Pennsylvania, rallying the resurgent LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds to a pair of impressive conference wins, and into a tie for second place in the NEC standings.
Frink and Zanna, both standing at 6-foot-7 and approximately 235 pounds, have feasted against conference foes through the first three games of the league schedule, helping the Blackbirds (10-7, 3-1 NEC) to a staggering 14.7 rebounding margin in those contests.
Last Thursday in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, Frink, the reigning NEC Player of the Week, had 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Zanna added 12 points and 13 boards in a 65-54 win over Robert Morris.
The dynamic duo was at it again Saturday in Loretto, Pennsylvania as Frink put up 21 points and 11 rebounds and Zanna ripped down 13 caroms to go with his 10 points in a come-from-behind 83-70 triumph at St. Francis University.
Winners of three straight overall following a season-high four-game skid, the Blackbirds appear poised to make a serious bid for their first NEC title since 2013, when they completed a dynastic record-setting run of three straight league crowns.
And though head coach Jack Perri often refers to his squad as playing “inside-out,” Frink and Zanna seem perfectly content to play inside-inside.
The two have combined for an astounding 15 double-doubles this season, seven by Frink and eight by Zanna, who leads the NEC in that category and ranks third overall in rebounding.
The native of Nigeria is shooting a league-best 61.2 percent from the floor, mainly because he doesn’t have to go very far to find the rim, making at least half of his shots in nine consecutive games.
After trailing SFU 40-38 at the half on Saturday, the Blackbirds bludgeoned the Red Flash in the paint, grabbing a whopping 17 offensive rebounds en route to a 42-28 edge off the glass.
“The end of the first half and beginning of the second half was huge,” Perri told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review following his team’s first win after trailing at the half this season. “We've struggled in the second half of games and that was a key to the win.”
Frink, a Jersey City product from the legendary St. Anthony High School program, averaged 20 points, 11 boards, 3.5 assists and a blocked shot during the two-day sojourn through the Quaker state, boosting his shot at NEC Player of the Year honors and upping his league-best rebounding average to 9.1 per contest.
The Blackbirds will shoot for their fourth straight NEC win Thursday against visiting Central Connecticut State.
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Following an inspiring — and somewhat surprising — perfect start to their NEC campaign, the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers came crashing back to earth this weekend during their own Pennsylvania trip.
The Terriers (4-13, 2-2 NEC) were trounced, 81-56, at SFU last Thursday before suffering Saturday’s 62-58 setback at Robert Morris despite a valiant second-half comeback and a team-high 20 points from sophomore guard Glenn Sanabria.
Former NEC Rookie of the Week and Brooklyn native Rasheem Dunn had 13 points off the bench for SFC, which nearly erased all of a 15-point deficit over the final 17 minutes.
The Terriers will try to get back on the winning track Thursday night at Remsen Street’s Pope Center against Sacred Heart before battling it out for Brooklyn bragging rights with the Blackbirds on Saturday at 3 p.m. within the unfriendly confines of the Steinberg Wellness Center.
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Junior guard Maynard Grant IV scored a team-high 16 points, but the slumping Brooklyn College (BC) Bulldogs squandered 17-point lead en route to their seventh straight loss, a humbling 82-71 setback to CUNYAC rival York at the West Quad Center on Monday night.
Austin Wood scored 12 points and Daniel Finkelstein added 10 off the bench for BC (3-12, 1-5 CUNYAC), which will try to post its first win since Dec. 9 when it hosts Baruch College here on Wednesday night.
The BC women had no problem cruising to their fourth straight victory prior to the men’s game on Monday, crushing visiting York, 82-24, behind a team-high 12 points from senior guard Justine Vento in a well-balanced offensive attack by the Lady Bulldogs.
"We came out and played loose and fun basketball tonight," said BC head coach Alex Lang after his squad improved to 10-2 overall, including a perfect 6-0 in CUNYAC action.
"I thought we pushed the ball well in transition and moved the ball extremely well in the half court. Our players are showing a lot of growth and look to be ready to continue to improve as we move into the heart of our conference schedule."
The ladies will try to stretch their overall winning streak to six against Baruch on Wednesday prior to the men’s contest.