Brooklyn Boro

LIU enters break on three-game slide

Blackbirds Drop 75-66 Decision to Niagara at Barclays Center

December 22, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jerome Frink had 12 points and 13 rebounds, but LIU Brooklyn suffered its third straight loss against visiting Niagara Wednesday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center. Photo courtesy of LIU Brooklyn Athletics
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What was once a promising start to the non-conference portion of their schedule, one that had them dreaming of going dancing in March, ended with a resounding thud for the LIU Brooklyn men’s basketball squad.

Winners of seven of their first 10 non-league contests, the Blackbirds concluded the stretch with three consecutive losses, including Wednesday night’s 75-66 defeat to Niagara in front of 1,219 fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

LIU’s rousing 74-73 win over St. John’s here on Dec. 11 gave the Blackbirds a 7-3 record, and had head coach Jack Perri talking about returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the school capped its record-setting run of three straight Northeast Conference titles in 2013.

“It’s been a while since we went to the NCAA tournament, and these guys have a chance to do something special if they really focus, and appreciate every single day, and a game like this, obviously you feel some gratification from it,” noted Perri after the Blackbirds (7-6) posted a rare win over a major conference opponent.

However, LIU has since suffered losses at Minnesota, against previously winless Dartmouth in its first game at the Steinberg Center in five weeks and Wednesday’s defeat to a Niagara squad that entered with just three victories in its first 12 contests.

Now, the Blackbirds will get a much-needed week off before gearing up for the season that really counts.

LIU will host Mount St. Mary’s on Dec. 29 in its NEC opener, hoping to begin a quest that will lead them back to the conference’s top spot and gain them an invite to the national championship tournament.

On Wednesday, senior guard Iverson Fleming led four Blackbirds in double figures in scoring with 15 points, but LIU had its second consecutive poor shooting game since returning to Brooklyn.

Jashaun Agosto scored 14 points, Nura Zanna added 13 and Jerome Frink finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Blackbirds, who shot 38 percent (27-of-70) from the floor, including a disappointing 3-of-16 from 3-point range.

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Shanovia Dove scored 19 points and pulled down a season-best 10 rebounds Wednesday, but the LIU Brooklyn women suffered a 57-45 loss to Maryland-Baltimore at the Barclays Center, falling to 1-10 on the season.

The Blackbirds will also kick off their NEC schedule next Thursday at the Steinberg Center against Mount St. Mary’s before the men hit the floor for their conference opener.

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Sophomore forward Maria Palarino scored a season-high 20 points, going 7-of-9 from the floor, but the St. Francis Brooklyn women’s squad dropped a 77-60 decision at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J.

The Terriers will host Bryant at the Pope Center next Thursday in the NEC opener for both teams.

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In local pro sports news, the Islanders added Stephen Gionta to their roster Wednesday, agreeing to a one-year, two-way pact with the veteran winger who had played seven games for the team’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Gionta, who spent all of last season with the Devils, registering a goal and 10 assists while piling up 43 penalty minutes, had played all 270 of his previous NHL contests with New Jersey, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals against Los Angeles in 2012.

The Isles, who snapped a five-game losing streak with Tuesday night’s 4-2 win in Boston, will try to enter the holiday weekend on a high note when they host the Buffalo Sabres here in Brooklyn on Friday night.

The team spent Wednesday giving back to the community, visiting hospitals on Long Island and here in our fair borough, where they distributed presents to kids who will be spending the holidays in the facilities.

Forwards Casey Cizikas and Jason Chimera and goaltender Thomas Greiss, who made a career-high 48 saves in Tuesday’s win over the Bruins, visited Maimonides Medical Center.

“Every year we look forward to this, being able to come in here and see the smiles on these kid’s faces when we walk in the door and being able to brighten up their day,” said Isles forward Anders Lee, who is currently the league’s hottest goal-scorer with 11 tallies in his last 13 games.

“You see how hard these kids are fighting to get healthy. To connect with them and put a smile on their faces, it’s special.”

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