Freshman comes through again in win over Wagner
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Everything seemed to come fairly easy for Wayne Martin during the opening month of his career at St. Francis College.
The South Shore High School product and Brooklyn native appeared well on his way to earning Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year honors after hitting a game-winning shot against Florida Atlantic on Nov. 11 and another against Stony Brook on Dec. 1.
His clutch last-second tip-in against Stony Brook capped a 12-point effort, with 10 of those points coming in the second half, as the Terriers snapped the Seawolves’ 13-game home winning streak.
It was also the last time Martin would reach double digits in points for the next two months.
That scoring drought came to a dramatic end Saturday night on Remsen Street as Martin rediscovered his touch around the basket and produced yet another scintillating game-winner in St. Francis’ 73-72 overtime triumph over NEC rival Wagner at the Pope Center.
Martin, who matched his season high with 17 points, delivered a go-ahead lay-up off the glass with 24 seconds left in the extra session as the Terriers (14-9, 5-3 NEC) ended a two-game slide and moved into a tie for third place in the league standings.
He also swatted away a pair of shots in the final eight seconds to preserve the much-needed victory, giving him a season-high total of seven blocks on the night.
“You have to work hard and earn it,” Martin said after adding nine rebounds to his impressive line. “Today I was physically and mentally ready to play and that’s what happens.”
Junior forward Jalen Cannon had 19 points and 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season and sophomore guard Anthony White added 11 points for St. Francis, which climbed one game above Wagner in the hunt for home-court advantage in the opening round of next month’s NEC Tournament.
"Wagner is a tough bunch,” noted Terriers coach Glenn Braica. “It's going to be a physical game every time you play them.”
Braica also took time to discuss Martin’s re-emergence following a stretch during which he was a solid, but not spectacular, presence off the Terriers’ bench.
“Wayne is learning,” he noted. “He's a freshman, but we talk to him every game about focusing and playing hard. He's a tremendously talented kid. Today the talent level and the effort were the same, and that's the result. We got him going early."
St. Francis will look to improve on its 7-1 home mark Thursday night against visiting St. Francis (Pa.).
Despite a season-high 24 points from fast-emerging sophomore E.J. Reed, the three-time defending NEC champion Blackbirds of LIU-Brooklyn absorbed a tough 95-92 loss to Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday in Emmitsburg, Md.
Reed hit a game-tying 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining before the Mount’s Sam Prescott answered with a shot from beyond the arc with 0.3 ticks left on the clock.
Senior point guard Jason Brickman notched his ninth double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 assists, but it wasn’t enough as the Blackbirds (7-14, 2-6 NEC) remained deadlocked with Central Connecticut State for the eighth and final NEC playoff spot.
Brickman, the nation’s leader in assists, is only four helpers away from passing Ohio’s D.J. Cooper for 12th place on the NCAA’s all-time list.
The Blackbirds are hoping to improve their postseason status Thursday night at the Steinberg Wellness Center, when they host first-place Robert Morris in a nationally televised (ESNPU) contest beginning at 7 p.m.
All fans attending are encouraged to wear black in observance of the “Brooklyn Blackout”, with the first 300 entrants receiving a t-shirt commemorating the event.
Brooklyn College extended its winning streak to four games Monday night at Baruch when freshman Harry Hazan knocked down a pair of free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining.
The clutch shots from the stripe gave the Bulldogs a 59-58 win and improved their overall record to 9-2, including 5-7 in CUNYAC play, since opening the campaign with just five victories in their first 17 games.
Sophomore Egzon Gjonbalaj paced four BC players in double figures with 13 points.
Juniors Steven Diaz, Jai Kellman and Valon Djombalic added 10 points apiece for the Bulldogs, who will look to make it five wins in a row Friday night at Hunter College.
Brooklyn native Michael Megafu scored a game-high 29 points and ripped down 10 rebounds Tuesday night as St. Joseph’s College topped Sarah Lawrence, 92-75, to clinch the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title.
St. Edmund’s Prep product Matt O’Neill added 11 points and a career-best 11 boards for the Bears, who won their fifth game in a row and improved to a perfect 6-0 in HVIAC action.
Junior Sarah Benedetti poured in a season-high 21 points off the bench and sophomore Leah Fuchko amassed 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as the ladies of St. Francis College pummeled visiting Fairleigh Dickinson, 67-51, at the Pope Center on Tuesday night.
Benedetti’s team-leading 7-of-14 shooting effort in 30 minutes helped the Terriers improve to 15-6 overall this season and 6-4 in the NEC, giving them a share of fourth place in the league standings.
"I think we did a good job on the defensive end tonight," said St. Francis head coach John Thurston.
"FDU can put up points and we were able to hold them to just 51,” he added. “Our kids put forth a tremendous effort tonight. I thought Sarah played a great all-around game while Eilidh (Simpson) was able to control the tempo of the game. Leah played exceptionally well this evening."
Simpson, a candidate for NEC Player of the Year honors, finished with eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
The Terriers will begin a critical stretch of four road contests beginning Saturday at NEC-leading Robert Morris.
The ladies of LIU-Brooklyn continued their late-season playoff push with a come-from-behind 62-54 win over Sacred Heart at the Steinberg Wellness Center on Tuesday night.
Senior Cleandra Roberts led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds as the Blackbirds overcame a halftime deficit for the first time this season en route to snapping a three-game losing streak.
At 5-16 overall and 3-7 in conference play, the Blackbirds are tied with CCSU for the last spot in next month’s NEC Tournament.
LIU will host Mount St. Mary’s Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the team’s annual Play 4 Kay Game, which raises money for cancer research.
The Lady Bulldogs of Brooklyn College had a three-game winning streak snapped Monday night at CUNYAC-leading Baruch, dropping a 56-38 decision to the Bearcats.
Junior Nacirema Mann had a team-high 14 points and a season-best 14 rebounds, but BC put up a season-low point total, shooting a dismal 33 percent from the floor, including a 1-of-12 effort from 3-point range.
BC will look to get right back in the win column Friday night at Hunter.