By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With LIU-Brooklyn's school-record home-court winning streak in peril last Saturday night, senior forward and reigning Northeast Conference Player of the Year Julian Boyd took over.
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound San Antonio native scored 15 of his team-high 20 points over the final 10 minutes as the suddenly streaking Blackbirds overcame a 16 point, second-half deficit en route to a thrilling 88-84 victory over visiting Hofstra before 1,209 fans at Downtown's Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center.
Boyd, who will be forced to sit out the two-time defending NEC champions' first two league contests come the new year due to his part in an on-campus brawl in September, wouldn't take the credit for rallying LIU-Brooklyn (3-4) to its 30th consecutive win at the WRAC, and third straight victory overall.
Instead, he ceded all praise to fellow senior Booker Hucks, who made the most of his first action of the young season after missing the Blackbirds' first six games due to a series of injuries.
"The biggest play of the game was obviously Hucks' 3-pointer,'' Boyd noted humbly, referring to Bucks' long-range field goal which put LIU ahead to stay, 84-82 with just 40 ticks remaining.
Hucks drilled both of his 3-point tries in 10 minutes off the bench as the Blackbirds kept their unblemished home mark, which dates back to the 2009-2010 campaign -- the first of their back-to-back championship seasons.
Hofstra, which is down four pivotal players, including Lincoln high school alum Shaquille Stokes, after a well-chronicled series of campus burglaries was unveiled last month, got a game-high 29 points from sophomore Taran Buie. But LIU's late-game surge spoiled the shorthanded Pride's big for an upset.
"Obviously we've got some guys off the team right now so we're trying to do the best we can with what we've got," said Buie, who made 10-of-17 shots from the floor and 7-of-11 free throws.
Seniors C.J. Garner and Brandon Thompson had 14 points apiece for LIU, which will take its show on the road Wednesday night for a showdown with Houston's Rice University before Sunday afternoon's visit to the WRAC by Manhattan College.
"It was a tough ending," admitted frustrated Hofstra coach Mo Cassara after his team's fifth consecutive defeat. "We gave them everything we had, obviously our margin for error in very small. We made several critical turnovers down the stretch and LIU took advantage of that. That's a very good team. They've won  in a row here."
Boyd, who is eager to help the Blackbirds return to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year, and first under new head coach Jack Perri, made ESPN's Plays of the Day on Saturday for his one-handed, alley-oop slam off a perfect feed from junior point guard Jason Brickman in the late stages of the comeback win.
Brickman, who was shut out in the opening 20 minutes before amassing 12 points and nine assists in the second half, lobbed a perfect inbounds pass to Boyd from the baseline, setting up the thunderous dunk which rattled the backboard and forged an 80-80 deadlock.
Though the highlight-reel jam received national attention, Boyd readily admitted it wasn't the shot that put the Blackbirds over the top. That one belonged to Hucks.
"Thankfully, we have him back," Boyd said.
The St. Francis Brooklyn men's team, which was scheduled to host Stony Brook Tuesday night on Remsen Street, suffered its third straight loss Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
The Terriers (2-5) dropped a 72-64 decision to Boston College despite a career high-tying 23 points from sophomore forward Jalen Cannon.
St. Francis Brooklyn will play its first-ever game at the Barclays Center on Saturday evening at 5 p.m. against St. Johns.
On the women's hoops scene, Bishop Ford alum Vanessa D'Ambrosi was named the CUNYAC Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 18.5 points per game on 59 percent shooting in the Lady Bulldogs' victories over NYU and York College.
The transfer from Division II Saint Anselm's College also picked up 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. It marked the third straight week in which a BC player has received the honor. Preceding D'Ambrosi were senior guards Charnelle Saint Laurent and Brittany Bowen.
The Bulldogs were slated to host the opener of a men's-women's doubleheader against Brooklyn rival Medgar Evers on Tuesday night.
The LIU-Brooklyn women's squad, which is off until a Dec. 21 home date against Ohio, dropped its second straight contest, 54-40 to Penn at the WRAC on Sunday.
Sophomore Honor Duvall scored a team-high 10 points and junior Fanny Cavallo grabbed a career-best nine boards for the Blackbirds (2-5), who will gear up for a New Year's week visit to Hawaii to participate in the Rainbow Wahine Invitational.
After a rousing 2-0 start under first-year coach John Thurston, the Lady Terriers (2-5) lost their fifth game in a row, 66-62, in overtime Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn Heights.
Sophomore guard Sarah Benedetti racked up 18 points and 12 rebounds for St. Francis Brooklyn, which was looking to get back in the win column Tuesday night at Columbia.