BROOKLYN -- The names once woke the memory from a bit of a nap. Montague, Henry, Clinton, and Hicks, and finally, Remsen Street. It had been years since venturing to a locale frequented a fair amount of times in the past.
If you have never been to the school and do not pay attention, you might walk past. St. Francis Brooklyn’s main campus building can be mistaken for an office. Regardless, the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood (“Moonstruck” was filmed here) lends charm, and a first-time visitor is certain they will come back. Inside the Pope Physical Education Center, the lighting was noticeably improved and the paint job applied since my last visit gave a better viewing.
On this day, the Terriers; of the Northeast Conference, hosted Brown, of the Ivy League. The Bears entered at 2-0, coming off a road win at Quinnipiac. St. Francis came in winless at 0-2, trying to bounce back from an overtime heartbreaker at Manhattan a few nights earlier.
Attempting to dissect the first half difference in the 42-34 St. Francis lead, from a vantage point of offense and defense with the various adjustments of both coaches, proved to be difficult. St. Francis actively looked for and shot the three, making seven of their 15 attempts. Brown, coached by Mike Martin, was enjoying some success with ball screen action. Getting down to basics, it boiled down to turnovers. Brown was guilty of 10 in the opening stanza. The host Terriers lost the ball a mere four times in their 34 opportunities. The game is simple, the experts say. They are so right.
The second half saw Brown trim the lead in the first few possessions. Through most of the period, the script stayed the same. Brown would draw within two possessions, St. Francis would answer and rebuild the lead. Brown would then regroup and come right back, refusing to go away, even taking the lead on a Brandon Anderson three-pointer with just under four minutes remaining. The Terriers answered at the foul line, regaining a lead they would not relinquish. There were anxious moments right up until the end. Nursing a three-point lead, St. Francis saw Brown push the ball, getting an open look beyond the arc. Collective hearts skipped a beat. Anderson’s attempt had eyes, but rimmed. St. Francis held on, 77-74.
“It’s great to get the win obviously,” Terriers head coach Glenn Braica said after addressing his team. “These guys are still learning. We have to learn to play with a lead. That you cannot simulate in practice. It is a learning process. We will be good, these guys are exciting.” The learning will take time, as Braica said he has a half-dozen players on his roster with just three games, not years, of Division I experience. He did get excited over the perimeter ability. The Terriers, led by Rasheem Dunn (23 points) and Jalen Jordan (22), shot 10-of-27 from distance.
“This team can shoot,” Braica said. “The team we had two years ago (NEC regular season champions) were not great shooters. They won by knowing how to win. They had the experience.”
Brown proved a worthy test on this Sunday afternoon. “They play a style we really do not see in our conference. They are good. They presented problems for us. I thought it was a good game to learn from.”