St. Francis beats LIU in the Battle of Brooklyn
Saturday was a “dog day” afternoon in Brooklyn as the St. Francis Terriers beat the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds 81-64 during the 40th annual “Battle of Brooklyn” in Brooklyn Heights. The win snapped a four-game winning streak by LIU Brooklyn during the battle.
Point guard Brent Jones, who was a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc on Saturday, was named MVP of the game as he led the Terriers with 15 points and eight assists.
“This is always a tough battle,” said St. Francis senior Jalen Cannon, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. “They came out here today and played very hard. To get our first win against them [this season], especially in the Battle of Brooklyn, it means a lot.”
“We’re happy to get the win,” St. Francis head coach Glenn Braica said. “This was the last time at our place against LIU for our seniors, so it was nice to get a win for them. LIU is good. They’re a good, young team that is tough to guard. I thought our guys did a nice job.”
The Terriers struggled to guard LIU Brooklyn early, particularly senior Gerrell Martin, who had 16 of his 18 points in the first half. The Blackbirds led for most of the half as a result and were up 31-29 with 3:03 left after freshman Elvar Fridriksson hit a three.
Things changed quickly, though, as Chris Hooper tied the game on a putback and gave St. Francis a lead on a free throw. That was the start of an 11-5 run that gave the Terriers a six-point lead going into halftime.
“I told them after the half that we have to be aggressive from the beginning,” Braica said. “We didn’t want to let them come out and get their confidence. They scored a little, but we never let it get under four, and then we extended the lead.”
Junior Amdy Fall was the key player in the second half. He scored 12 of his 14 points that half and dominated on defense as he picked up six boards and four blocks. He led the Terriers bench that outscored the LIU bench 34-14.
“He was great,” Braica said of Fall. “He was scoring in the post, blocking shots and rebounding. He did it all … He really changes the game with his defense. He gives you a dimension that I’ve probably only coached one other time in my life before I got here.”
Fall, who was teammates with LIU’s Gerrell Martin in high school, called his blocked shot of Martin in the second half the highlight of the game. Fall and Martin attended Wings Academy in the Bronx together. Martin scored just two points in the second half. “I can’t repeat what I said to him after that,” Fall joked.
The win was a figurative passing of the torch between the two Northeast Conference schools. LIU Brooklyn won the conference championship three years in a row from 2011 to 2013, but lately St. Francis has been the better team and aspires to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in the school’s history this season.
St. Francis currently sits in first place in the NEC with an 8-2 conference record, and LIU Brooklyn is 4-6 and battling for the last couple of playoff spots. Even though it appears that the two schools are headed in opposite directions, both coaches know that nothing is guaranteed with eight games still left to play. When they meet again during the second to last game of the season, the playoff implications will be heavy.
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