Iverson Fleming led five LIU players in double figures with 17 points as Blackbirds end two-game losing streak with 84-72 home victory over UMass Lowell. (Photo courtesy of Bob Dea via Nelson Castillo's Blackbirds Hoops Journal)
BROOKLYN -- Five LIU Brooklyn players scored in double figures as the Blackbirds (4-2) used a hot start to put the brakes on a two-game losing streak, defeating UMass Lowell (3-3) by the final of 84-72 Thursday night at the Steinberg Wellness Center.
"I think we played well together," said Iverson Fleming, whose 17 points were a team-high for LIU, who came up empty in the win column on a two-game road trip against Florida International and Dartmouth. "We played as a team and everything kind of fell into place."
"We finally shot the ball," a revelatory head coach Jack Perri candidly assessed. "I think that helped. Obviously, we needed to play better defensively than we did the first five games, and we've talked about that."
Jerome Frink and Joel Hernandez each contributed 16 points and eight rebounds apiece to the winning cause, while Aakim Saintil tallied 13 points off the bench and Martin Hermannsson recorded 10 points of his own in a game where the Blackbirds torched the nets in the first half, shooting 57 percent from the field and 8-for-11 from three-point range.
"We got away from winning 50-50 balls and just being that aggressive team," Fleming surmised when revisiting LIU's two most recent games. "This week, our coach preached we had to be the more dominant team, getting to those loose balls."
UMass Lowell did enjoy a brief 5-4 lead in the opening minutes of the contest, but it was the River Hawks' lone advantage of the evening. A 12-0 LIU run quickly turned the tide back in favor of the home team, and every time the visitors would creep within hailing distance of the lead, the Blackbirds were able to effectively counterpunch, something their coach lauded in his postgame press conference.
"You knew it was going to happen," said Perri of UMass Lowell's imminent runs, "but I don't know if it necessarily needed to happen. We had to go to a little bit of a wacky lineup with Joel and Trevin, (Woods) and they did a good job. We opened the lead back up with those guys at the four and five."
LIU hits the road once again for another two-game excursion, first to Fordham on Tuesday before facing Niagara one week from Saturday.