The two sides of Jason Brickman’s game were on display at the Barclays Center as he helped LIU Brooklyn defeat St. Francis Brooklyn 83-75 Sunday.
In the first half Brickman’s picked apart the Terriers’ defense with seven assists as the Blackbirds raced out to an 11-point lead.
The the second half the junior point guard picked up some of the scoring load, tallying 11 key points as St. Francis concentrated on taking away his passing angles. He had just two assists and two turnovers in the final 20 minutes, but twice gave his team the lead on big shots.
“They just tried to take away the passes and tried to make me score so I was just trying to be aggressive and take whatever they gave me,” Brickman said about the second half.
Not every team has the personnel to stop Brickman as a passer, but those that do have had some success. Robert Morris let Brickman score 19 points, but held him to four assists in a tight win at the WRAC last Saturday. It’s experiences like the game against the Colonials that have taught Brickman to look for his offense if teams decide to defend the Blackbirds that way.
“More teams are starting to take away all the passes and trying to make me score more for myself and giving me lanes to the basket, so I’m just trying to be aggressive and take what the defense gives me,” Brickman said.
Against the Terriers though Brickman got some help. Jamal Olasewere scored 20 points, including a clutch runner with 28 seconds to go that pushed LIU’s advantage to five. C.J. Garner also helped out, with 17 points.
Olasewere’s runner came after the second of two intentional fouls that swung the momentum back-and-forth during the second half. SFC got back into the game in the second half thanks to a run-out by P.J. Santavenere that was compounded by Garner’s intentional foul. Santavenere scored seven points on a single possession (the layup, two free throws and an ensuing three), to get the Terriers back within four.
“It was a huge momentum swing for them and it made a game that we were in complete control of get a little hairy,” said LIU head coach Jack Perri about the foul. “But our guys did keep their composure. I was proud of their effort that way.”
The second big intentional foul came near the very end of the game when a frustrated Jalen Cannon grabbed the foot of E.J. Reed as the Blackbirds were just getting into transition. It was Cannon’s fifth foul and helped LIU push a one-point lead to five and essentially end the game.
Santavenere had the best game of his career for the Terriers. He scored a career-high 16 points on a perfect 6-6 from the field.
“I was upset that a couple guys didn’t jump on balls the way they’re supposed to,” said St. Francis head coach Glenn Braica. “P.J. came in and was aggressive defensively and offensively and did a very good job.”
It was another foul that wasn’t called that had Terriers fans upset after the game. During a critical moment it appeared as if Santavenere had been obstructing from getting to another fast-break opportunity, but the officials didn’t blow the whistle. LIU managed to hang on and make the big plays down the stretch for the win.
While Cannon struggled inside, going 4-11 for eight points, Akeem Johnson had another big game at Barclays. He scored 22 points on 8-11 shooting. Johnson’s 13 points in the first half kept SFC in the game as the rest of the team shot 7-17 in the first half.
LIU is now 13-11 and 8-4 in the NEC. The Blackbirds are fighting for home games in the conference tournament. LIU is also 2-2 at Barclays this season. The two wins have come in their last two games. Down the stretch there was a real atmosphere to the game.
“With five minutes left, as hairy as it got, the crowd really got into it,” Olasewere said. “I heard our side. I heard their side’s fans. I couldn’t tell which one it was.”
St. Francis is 5-7 in NEC play now and fighting to just make the tournament. The loss leaves the Terriers at 5-7 and tied with Mount St. Mary’s for the eighth and final playoff spot.
SFC heads to the New Jersey schools this weekend, but a Feb. 23 trip to Maryland to take on the Mount looms large on the schedule.
“I’ve got tough guys. They’ll bounce back. They’ve bounced back all year,” Braica said. “It is tough. You need some payback once in a while, but my guys don’t quit. They’ll bounce back. We’ll be fine.”