BROOKLYN, NY — Coming into Tuesday, The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds were 0-2 on the season, losing games to the Tulane Green Waves and the Fordham Rams.
LIU had their home opener against second-year basketball Division lll program the College New Rochelle Blue Angels in the Steinberg Wellness Centre.
Head coach Derek Kellogg made his debut at home and his team did not disappoint. The Blackbirds came out hungry, led by Joel Hernandez, who scored five of the team’s first seven points on the night. It was matched quick by the Blue Angels, and the teams were trading baskets early on.
LIU seemed to hit another gear, as Hernandez and Jashaun Agosto were firing on all cylinders. Hernandez would finish the first half with 17 points and six rebounds, while Agosto was a perfect 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. The Blackbirds took a 51-39 lead into half time.
The Blue Angels played the whole game in 2-3, zone which didn’t seem do them much good. LIU Brooklyn had 43 points in the paint, went 11-40 from the three-point line, and shot 49.4 percent from the field.
They also finished with 22 assists as team.
On the defensive end, LIU was much better than in their previous games, recording seven blocks and getting 20 points of turnovers allowing them to run and transition which led to an emphatic alley-oop from Raiquan Clark to Jamall Robinson early in the first half.
As the second half got underway, it was evident the Blackbirds wanted to put this game away. Coach Kellogg had the Blackbirds press for a stretch with emphasis from the sideline. You could hear Coach telling his players to double the ball, and his team went on a 23-8 run as a result.
With just over 11 minutes left on the night, the Blackbirds held a 74-47 lead over the Blue Angels.
Up 31 with just under 10 minutes left in play, Hernandez and Agosto got some rest giving some court time to the likes of Raul Frias, Shyheim Hicks and Julius Van Sauers. Hernandez would finish with a game high 19 points, while Clark added 17 points and Agosto with 16. Zach Coleman recorded a double double, with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Hicks recorded his first collegiate basket in the win, and Penn had a career high 7 points. Hunter Schenkel had a team-high 17 points for the Blue Angels.
The Blackbirds held down their home court with a 104-68 victory, improving to 1-2 on the season. The Blackbirds are in action this Friday, November 17th, against Miami University in the Jamaica Classic.
– N. Wright