Terriers’ men’s hoops squad not done yet
SFC Brooklyn accepts invite to CIT, draws Hampton in opener
A heart-breaking overtime loss to Robert Morris in the quarterfinal round of the Northeast Conference tournament had the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s basketball team lamenting what could have been after a solid season on Remsen Street.
Now, they’ll get a chance to keep playing, thanks to an invite from the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
“We’re excited to be invited to the CIT and appreciate the opportunity to play in a national postseason tournament,” said Terriers head coach Glenn Braica after learning that his squad would take on Hampton Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Hampton, Virginia.
SFC has spent more than a century trying to nail down the diminutive Brooklyn Heights school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. Now the opportunity to play on in a season that saw the Terriers go 17-15 — before their 69-65 defeat to RMU in Moon Township, Pennsylvania two weeks ago — is one the program could not pass up.
“It’s a chance for our guys to continue their season and it’s something they’ve earned as a reward for their accomplishments throughout the year,” added Braica, whose team squandered a 15-point halftime loss in the crushing loss to that night’s host, the Colonials.
Hampton (15-16) also was left on the outside looking in at March Madness following a first-round loss to Campbell in the Big South Tournament.
Comparatively, the Pirates have enjoyed a wealth of postseason experience over the past eight seasons, participating in last year’s National Invitation Tournament, a pair of CITs and making NCAA Tournament appearances in 2011, 2015 and 2016.
The Terriers, who have lost four of their last five games, are doubtlessly eager to extend their campaign beyond Thursday’s first-round encounter, which will mark the first-ever meeting between the programs.
After making a four-game improvement over last year’s 13-18 record, Braica’s squad is returning to postseason play for the first time since 2015, when it came within a missed three-pointer of reaching its first-ever NCAA Tournament in the NEC Final here at the Pope Center.
Following the brutal defeat to RMU, which was televised nationally on ESPN, the Terriers got an at-large nod to the NIT that year, suffering an 84-74 loss to Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.
That appearance marked SFC’s first beyond the regular season and conference tournament since 1963, when it also reached the NITs.
The Terriers have not won a postseason game outside the NEC since defeating Niagara at the 1956 NITs.
Though they fell well short of their ultimate March goal, the Terriers are eager to end the season on a positive note.
Grad-student guard Glenn Sanabria, the team’s undisputed on-the-floor leader and the only remaining player from that near-magical 2014-15 squad, will get at least one more chance to play for the Terriers Thursday night.
“The CIT gives seniors Glenn Sanabria and Keon Williams an opportunity to extend their careers, and it also will serve as a tremendous learning experience for our returners,” said Braica.
If the Terriers get past Hampton, they will advance to the quarterfinal round, which will be played from March 27-31 at yet-to-be-determined sites.
In other local college sports news, the LIU-Brooklyn women’s softball team capped its best 26-game start ever by edging Brown, 2-1, on a walk-off hit by freshman Camryn Lyman Sunday afternoon in the finale of the USF-Michelle Smith Pediatric Cancer Spring Invitational Tournament in Clearwater, Florida.
Freshman sensation Elena Valenzuela continued her dominant campaign by tossing a complete game to pick up her eighth win of the year after Lyman’s line-drive single into center field snapped the 1-1 deadlock.
At 15-11, the Blackbirds appear primed and ready to enter the northern portion of their schedule.
They went 2-3 overall at the USF Tournament, but have won the last contest in all six of their preseason tournaments thus far this year, including a perfect 2-0 run through the Gaucho Classic in Santa Barbara, California earlier this month.
Valenzuela, who yielded only five hits and did not walk a batter in her latest gem, is the reigning three-time NEC Pitcher of the Week following a standout career La Habra High School in Whittier, California.
She and her teammates will be back on the diamond Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m., when they take on Hofstra in Hempstead, Long Island.
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