LIU BLACKBIRDS: The Battle of Brooklyn is Won.
The Hoops of Flatbush Defeat the Remsen Street Terriers.
St. Francis Terriers 78
LIU-BK Blackbirds 81
LIU's Jamal Olasewere Scores Thirty-Two Points and is Named MVP in the Annual Clash for Kings County.
They came; They saw; They competed. As a fan, the collegiate Battle of Brooklyn was everything you wanted from of a game between two old Downtown rivals. A truly great contest played out at the Wellness Center on Sunday afternoon where pure intensity ruled the day as both teams fought through numerous ties, and multiple lead changes. The outcome was never certain even with 0:08 left left in the game.
But as Battles go, the winners get to write the history books. That's where LIU comes in. But for the St. Francis Terriers, they have absolutely nothing to hang their heads over. The Blackbirds will no doubt see them again in the NEC tournament. But for a night, the Terriers gave LIU everything they could handle. St. Francis made a defiant Flatbush Avenue crossing and jumped out to a 43-41 halftime lead inside LIU's Ashland Place gym where the Blackbirds were 9-0 this season and 21-0 going back to last season. Akeem Johnson led St. Francis scorers with seventeen first half points. The Terriers rode Johnson's effort and got ten points from their bench heading into the break.
LIU's Jamal Olasewere and Julian Boyd had other plans however. They both combined to shoot a perfect 14 for 14 from the field for thirty-five first half points. Yet, their mark on this game was still to be made. St. Francis held on to their lead until LIU's Brandon Thompson nailed a three-pointer at the 13:17 mark for the game's eighth tie, and making the score fifty-two all. That's really when the Blackbirds finally turned things around.
Jamal Olasewere made two key defensive stops with a block and a steal, and continued his game-perfect 11-11 shooting from the field. He helped the Blackbirds build up a nine point lead with nearly eight minutes left to play. But even then, St. Francis still had another run in them. They led this game with less than a minute left to play. But Jamal Olasewere's final three points of the night tied this game at 72-72 before fouling out with 0:44 left. His eleventh and final shot from the field was good. And then hit his free throw before committing his last foul and taking a seat.
Akeem Johnson; who finished with twenty-three to lead St. Francis; put the Terriers up by one with a foul shot. Then it was Julian Boyd's turn to put this game into his hands. With 0:18 left, he lofted a turn-around jumper inside the lane that found a friendly rim and got a soft bounce for a 79-78 lead. Then at the other end, Julian Boyd suffocated Akeem Johnson on defense and caused the game deciding turnover.
C.J. Garner; who was monster in the second half shooting 7 for 8 from the line, buried LIU's last two points of the game on free throws to secure the Blackbirds' 81-78 victory.
By game's end, Jamal Olasewere scored a game high thirty-two points, and as mentioned, was perfect (11-11) from the field. He pulled down seven rebounds; six on the defensive end; and added nine more points from the line. He was awarded the Lai-Lynch Trophy for being named MVP in this year's Battle of Brooklyn.
Julian Boyd wasn't just clutch in the last minute. He had a stellar game of his own throughout the early evening dropping twenty points and pulling down a game high ten rebounds, with nine coming on the defensive end. C.J. Garner was the third Blackbird to achieve double-digit scoring with fifteen. And Jason Brickman distributed a game high twelve assists.
With their fifth win in a row, the Blackbirds are now 10-0 at home and 22-0 inside the Wellness Center dating back to last season. They improved their overall record this season to 19-7, and remain atop the Northeast Conference with a 13-1 record.
The Terriers' loss locks St. Francis (NY) into a 10-4 tie for third place with Robert Morris. Wagner sits on second place with a 12-2 record while also owning the best road record (11-2) in the Conference.
Next up, Sacred Heart will take a shot at LIU's record inside the Wellness Center when they visit this Thursday, February 16th.