WRITTEN BY MIN LEE
St. Francis fell to LIU in a heartbreaking last second loss, 82-80.
Emotions ran high in a near capacity crowd game in the 36th annual “Battle of Brooklyn” as the LIU Blackbirds defeated the St. Francis College Terriers 82 to 80 in a crucial conference match up.
Both teams opened up the first half aggressively, looking to shoot fast and shoot often. The two Brooklyn rivals seemed to be trading baskets every possession, driving to the basket at will.
Freshman forward Matt Milk made his 12th start at center, finding his rhythm early, shooting a perfect 3 of 3 from the field by the half. Senior guard Ricky Cadell, who moved to third place in the St. Francis College all-time scoring leaders, struggled to find his shot in the first shooting only three for 11. Guard Dre Calloway, who did not start today’s game, also shot a perfect three for three by the half. Calloway finished with 13 points and seven assists.
In what was a neck and neck game, there were 19 lead changes by the half, with 8 ties. Despite LIU only shooting a 36% from field, they managed to stay close attempting 16 free throws to St. Francis’ six by the half, with the Terriers leading 37-35. The game saw a total of 24 lead changes and 16 ties.
LIU opened up the second half on an 13-5 run, out-rebounding and out-hustling the Terriers, capitalizing on crucial second chance points. LIU forward Julian Boyd was the main facilitator of their hustle, finishing with a game high 19 points and eight rebounds.
The Terriers however responded with eight unanswered points, sparked by two timely three pointers by guards Travis Nichols and Akeem Bennett. It wasn’t long before the Blackbirds regained the lead with a pair of three point plays.
Nichols and Bennett continued to keep the Terriers afloat in Cadell’s absence, who was benched for early foul trouble. The two combined for 30 points, making five of the team’s seven three pointers today. Nichols, who also added, 10 rebounds, recorded his first career double double.
An easy basket by LIU and a key late foul put the Blackbirds up four with a minute to go in second half, a rather large lead in today’s game. The largest lead was only seven points by LIU early in the second.
Bennett hit a quick three after a time out to cut the lead to one with 36 seconds on the clock, before an intentional foul put LIU back up by two. Johnson scored the tieing basket on a put-back with only 7 seconds to go. LIU guard C.J Garner hushed frenzied crowd with a beautiful fall back jumper with 0.6 on the clock; the winning basket as Cadell failed to make to a last minute prayer shot.
C.J Garner won MVP honors as well, finishing with five points and four rebounds. St. Francis fell to 11-14, and will play Mount St. Mary on February 17th.