It wasn’t quite as close as last season, but for the second season in a row LIU Brooklyn escaped a tight contest against Loyola (MD) with a victory.
The Blackbirds defeated the Greyhounds 65-61 at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night.
Last season the Blackbirds needed a thrilling half-court shot to take home the victory. This time the close win was of a slightly more conventional manner. LIU managed to grab a 4-point lead with one minute remaining thanks to four consecutive free throws by freshman Jashaun Agosto. It then held on as Loyola attempted to made one final comeback. Jarred Jones left his fast-break layup short for the Greyhounds and Iverson Fleming hit two free throws to close it out.
The game was tight throughout. There were 10 lead changes and 14 ties. The largest lead for either team was six for the Blackbirds toward the end of the first half.
LIU (2-1) was playing its first game since losing Joel Hernandez to injury. The senior wingman was set to be a key piece of the LIU game plan. Instead it was Agosto who stepped up to help carry the load. The 5-foot-11 guard scored 12 points thanks to his dynamic speed with the ball. He was able to draw a number of fouls on Loyola defenders and went 5-6 from the line. Agosto faced a bit of foul trouble early in the second half, but he was a key part of the Blackbirds’ attack down the stretch.
“I was just so proud of Jashaun,” said LIU head coach Jack Perri. “He came in and he played like an upperclassmen. He’s done that in practice so I felt good about that coming in.”
Jerome Frink and Fleming each scored 16 points for LIU.
“With Joel going down everyone else has to step up, including myself, so that’s what I looked to do and tonight we came up with a tough win,” Fleming said.
Andre Walker scored 21 points to lead the Greyhounds. LIU defenders struggled to stay in front of the dynamic point guard and he went 12-13 from the free throw line, which helped his point total despite shooting 4-12 from the field. Jones and James Five each scored 13 for Loyola (1-2).
LIU had a strong game defensively overall. While the Blackbirds did commit 29 personal fouls, leading to 33 free throws for Loyola, they were otherwise solid defensively. The Greyhounds shot just 31% from the field for the game, including 3-17 (18%) from three. After LIU surrendered eight offensive boards in the first half, Loyola only managed to grab five in the second. Overall Perri was pleased by the defensive intensity.
“Our effort was there,” Perri said. “And we’re going to need that because we don’t score like we used to. We’re going to have to be locked in defensively if we’re going to be any good this year.”
Perri played almost his entire healthy roster, and foul trouble forced him into some awkward combinations. Mitchell McMullen provided five solid minutes off the bench and seemed to help calm the team down in the first half. It took Julian Batts a little while to settle into the game, but once he did he had some flashes of strong play and scored five points and grabbed three boards in 17 minutes. Raiquan Clark also had a solid game for LIU off the bench with eight points and four rebounds in 15 minutes.
“He’s more like Joel Hernandez and he’s going to give us some good minutes,” Perri said about Clark after the game.