Monday, February 15, 2016

Blackbirds claw back into NEC hunt with win over crosstown rival Terriers

Martin Hermannsson led LIU Brooklyn with 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals in Blackbirds' 82-67 win over St. Francis Brooklyn. (Photo courtesy of Bob Dea via Blackbirds Hoops Journal)

BROOKLYN -- Jack Perri's goal going into the season was to get LIU Brooklyn into the top four of the Northeast Conference.

The Blackbirds have had some tough showings in recent weeks, but on Monday afternoon, they played as complete a game as any this season.

Behind a well-rounded game from Martin Hermannsson, LIU (13-12, 7-7 NEC) moved within two games of the conference lead and avenged a tough loss in the process, being the controlling side from the start in a wire-to-wire victory over St. Francis Brooklyn (11-16, 7-7 NEC) by the final of 82-67.

"It was our biggest game because it was our next game," head coach Jack Perri remarked as his team picked up back-to-back wins for the first time in four weeks. "We're starting to play the way we envisioned. I think that was a pretty complete game by our group, offensively and defensively."

"I really wanted that win," added Hermannsson, whose line of 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists against zero turnovers, and five steals paced four Blackbirds in double-figure scoring totals. "Every game from now on is huge for us. We knew we had to come out energized, and that's what we did."

LIU opened the game on an 8-2 run, and soon stretched their advantage out to double digits, taking advantage of a St. Francis team that was unable to get into a rhythm from three-point range, missing all but two of their 12 attempts from beyond the arc in an opening stanza they managed just 27 points in.

"I don't want it to be our identity," a brutally honest Glenn Braica said of his Terriers' affinity for the outside shot. "We've got to get the ball in the paint more and get it inside more. We've gotten away from that, and I think it some ways, it's a little bit of fool's gold."

St. Francis would get no closer than eight points after halftime, and an 8-3 Blackbird run put the stamp on a win LIU desperately needed in its quest to secure a home quarterfinal matchup in the upcoming NEC Tournament.

"That's really important to us," Jerome Frink, who contributed 15 points and seven rebounds to a winning cause, said of the home crowd being a factor. "We need to get our fan base behind us and get things going for the first game."

"That's what we want," Perri reaffirmed, "but the reality is we have one game at Robert Morris next, and they beat us at our place. That's a game we're going to have to play really, really well."

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