By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)
TEANECK, NJ - A homecoming for LIU Brooklyn coach Stephanie Oliver, who played her high school ball in Livingston, NJ; and for assistant Heather Zurich, an outstanding player during her prep days at nearby Pascack Valley High School. Cordial greetings and hugs from friends and relatives aside, there was a game to play. Both LIU and FDU entered the Northeast Conference matchup at 1-5 in league play.
Putting together what coach Peter Cinella termed “our best defensive effort of the season,” FDU defeated LIU 64-46 at the Rothman Center. FDU is now alone in eighth place, the final team in the NEC Tournament if the season ended today. The numbers of note:
First five possessions:
LIU: Missed FG, turnover, missed FG, turnover, turnover
FDU: Turnover, missed FG, field goal, turnover, field goal
After the first five, the score was 4-0 in FDU’s favor at 7:21 mark. The pace of near 70 possessions was much to FDU’s liking.
FDU is committed to the three-point shot. The Knights knocked down four in the second quarter to build a ten-point lead. LIU was able to reduce that deficit, hitting a few threes of their own. The Blackbirds were led by Shanovia Dove, with 11 points. Added scoring contributions to assist the LIU standout would be greatly appreciated.
FDU utilized full court pressing the second quarter, not so much to force turnovers, but rather to force LIU to use time to beat it before setting up, thus having less time on the shot clock to effectively run their offense.
There must be some record of shot clock violations in this one. I wish I had kept track.
At the half, FDU held a 33-28 lead. Through 36 possessions, a quick pace, FDU held the lead in offensive efficiency, 92-78.
The first four minutes of the second half saw FDU come out ahead, 7-4, to build an eight-point lead that could have been ten had FDU’s Natalie Zamora not missed a transition layup at the six-minute mark.
Possessions: LIU 66, FDU 67
Offensive efficiency: LIU 70, FDU 96
eFG%: LIU 40, FDU 51
Free Throw Rate: LIU 30, FDU 14
Offensive Rebound%: LIU 30, FDU 43
Turnover Rate: LIU 33, FDU 27
Leading scorers and EF:
LIU: Aja Boyd 17 points, EF 29.
FDU: Amina Markovic 14 points, EF 30
Kiana Brown 14 points, EF 21
What LIU did well: Force turnovers. The Blackbirds were able to get FDU to lose 27 percent (18 turnovers) of their possessions. Unfortunately for Stephanie Oliver’s club, that effort could not carry over when the Knights finished a possession.
What FDU did well: Play their best defensive game of the year. The efficiency was 70, turnover rate 33 percent and defensive eFG percentage 40. Case closed.
You may have sensed this was FDU’s day. With just over seven minutes left and ahead by eleven, Kiana Brown had the ball on the wing as the shot clock neared expiration. Closely guarded and losing the ball, she threw a one-handed, off-balance toss reminiscent of Miami Dolphin Garo Yepremian. Nothing but net, FDU by 14. No better indicator this was their day.
Markovic, a 6-foot-1 junior, pulled down a game high 12 rebounds, adding five assists against just two turnovers. “Her most complete game of the season,” said Cinella. Markovic turned in an outstanding 1.00 EF per minute.
Turnover rates were close, but FDU inflicted the most damage with a 23-9 advantage in points off turnovers. LIU had seven assists against 22 turnovers. FDU matched the numbers: 18 assists and turnovers.
Aja Boyd led LIU with 11 rebounds. Boyd (17) and Dove (14) accounted for 71 percent of the Blackbird scoring. Conversely, the pair combined for nine turnovers. Chalk it up, as we said, to the duo having to do a little too much of everything. LIU managed just three field goals and seven points in the final quarter, when FDU was able to put the game away.
LIU is 2-16 on the season, FDU checks in at 4-14.
“LIU came in off two great games, so we had to play well today. We really did a good job of controlling tempo. We did not run a fast break, but moved the ball in half court, found openings and had 18 assists as a result. We forced 22 turnovers. In our press, it is not one, we really expend a lot of energy. We are not really looking for the steal, but to disrupt their offense a bit. Amina Markovic had a bad ankle the last two games. Today, she was back and really stepped up for us. She was huge. We have a good, well-coached team in St. Francis Brooklyn on Monday. They play pack line defense, so we will try to go by them off the dribble. We must be patient on offense as well, and it will be a big challenge.” - FDU coach Peter Cinella