(Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
BROOKLYN, NY - The second game of the LIU men’s and women’s doubleheader saw the Blackbird men host Niagara in a good non-conference test for both schools. The test, appropriately during exam week, was passed by the visiting Purple Eagles, as they posted a 75-66 victory at Barclays Center. Niagara is 4-9, while LIU is now 7-6.
The first five possessions:
Niagara: Turnover, turnover, field goal, turnover, turnover
LIU: Missed FG, missed FG, field goal, missed FG, field goal
LIU led 4-2 at the 17:19 mark. The quicker pace did not appear to be to Niagara’s liking, with four of their initial five possessions ending in turnovers. Niagara led 36-34 at the half. LIU won the first four minutes of the second half, 8-4, to regain the lead. Niagara quickly responded. With a mix of attacking the basket and timely three-pointers, the Purple Eagles sported a 12-point lead at the eight-minute media timeout. They were never really threatened in the stretch.
Possessions: Niagara 72, LIU 74
Offensive efficiency: Niagara 104, LIU 89
eFG%: Niagara 54, LIU 41
Free Throw Rate: Niagara 38, LIU 20
Offensive Rebound%: Niagara 50, LIU 33
Turnover Rate: Niagara 28, LIU 16
Leading scorers and EF:
Niagara - Matt Scott 14 points, EF 20, Chris Barton 14 points, EF 19.
LIU - Iverson Fleming 15 points, EF 18.
What Niagara did well: Pound the glass and hit threes. The Purple Eagles had an outstanding 50 percent offensive rebound percentage, highlighted by 17 boards on the offensive end. Niagara shot 7-of-14 from downtown and canned four during the second half stretch that opened the double-digit lead.
What LIU did well: Force turnovers. Niagara had a 28 percent turnover rate, resulting in a 22-12 edge in points off turnovers for the Blackbirds. Eleven of the twenty Niagara turnovers came off steals by LIU.
A deceptive night for Jerome Frink of LIU. He scored 12 points and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. For the most part, the LIU senior struggled inside, shooting 5-of-21. “Jerome had three finals today,” LIU coach Jack Perri explained. “That is not an excuse in any way, but it contributed to his frustration. At times he needed to relax and not try to make an impossible shot. Just take what is there and take the easy shot.”
Dominic Robb of Niagara scored eight points, pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked seven shots. His EF was 27. In a 26-minute outing, that translated to a per minute EF of 1.04, an outstanding showing for the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward out of Pittsburgh. Nura Zanna was effective inside for the Blackbirds, with 13 points and seven rebounds. Unfortunately, he was guilty of a team-high four turnovers.
Interestingly, LIU led 46-36 on points in the paint, while Niagara held a 22-11 advantage in second chance points. In one late game sequence, the Purple Eagles rebounded four times on a miss before getting fouled and converting on the line. It came down more to E for effort rather than X and O.
Niagara struggled from the charity stripe, going 12-of-22. As coach Chris Casey jokingly noted, “Tonight, we went from one of the best free shooting teams in the country to the worst.” In the end, rebounding and shooting from three more than compensated.
“Regardless of the last few games, the focus for us is to try to win the league. This was a tough stretch with no breaks. We had practice, prep, games and travel. It was a tough stretch. We have four guys who have been through it, but a lot of young guys who haven’t. We had a good November, but not December outside of our St. John’s win. We got away from defending as well as we did in November. The defensive effort was not there and we got pummeled on the boards. Against Dartmouth, we missed free throws and layups. Here, we did not have the effort and that hurts. Robb blocked seven shots and hurt us inside. Good for him. We need poise and consistency. Our guys were getting frustrated tonight and you can’t have that. We will take a needed rest, then get back on the 26th to start preparing for the Mount.” - LIU coach Jack Perri
“Pleased with how we competed on the glass. LIU is a physical team, but we were able to rebound and make plays around the basket. We got a lot of loose balls, but we emphasized that, especially if a rebound was tipped and kept alive. My mindset is always to look at the next game and prepare, so I haven’t thought about the league as a whole. We are 4-9, but I like the way we are playing. We had 10 of 13 games away from home, and that is a lot when you are playing so many young guys. I thought Robb gave us a very good game. He’s been solid and has given two or three games like that tonight. Our bench helped us out, and overall, it was a good win. The turnovers we have to cut down on, but some were early game jitters, as we had about five the first six minutes or so. Credit LIU though, their quickness can force you to turn it over.” - Niagara coach Chris Casey