St. Francis College Upends LIU, 67-64 in Battle of Brooklyn
On paper, it looked like Long Island University, playing at the shiny Wellness Center would have a relatively easy game. They were to face off against the St. Francis Terriers, seeking only their third conference win of the year, and hoping to break a demoralizing nine game losing streak.
Throw out the records in the hot “Battle of Brooklyn” rivalry, because, in this game, records don’t matter. What matters are players making plays, players rising to the occasion, and players playing together as a team.
St. Francis (6-21, 3-13) demonstrated all that in the second half, with Kayode Ayeni, coming off the bench to add offensive punch and grabbing key rebounds, and the Terriers, made the big plays down the stretch to win, 67-64, in an exciting game.
St. Francis got contributions from guard Marcus Williams who scored 15 points and hauled in 10 rebounds, for a double-double. Jamaal Womack, the only player to start all 26 games, chipped in with 11 points and as the horn sounded ending the game, he threw the ball high in the air in celebration.
But in this game, Brooklyn product Ayeni, made his mark, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second half. For his performance, he was named Most Valuable Player of the Game, and honored with a plaque where his name will be inscribed.
The win gave hope to the Terriers’s fading chances to qualify for the NEC Tournament. The loss by LIU (13-13, 5-10) prevented them from gaining a leg up on clinching a playoff berth.
Ayeni put the win in perspective: “I feel good but we still have 2 more games and we still got to make the playoffs,” said Ayeni. “If we don’t make the playoffs, it’s just a win.”
The Blackbirds took a 31-26 half-time lead on hot shooting from the field. LIU hit 50% from the field. And, seemed poised to have a good second half, but the Terriers had something to say about that. Brian Nash, head coach of St. Francis, in his third season, kept on his team like a jockey on a racehorse. “We kept defending,” said Nash. “When we couldn’t score at least we got some stops tonight.” “We just had various contributions from different guys,” Nash said.
Jaytornah Wisseh, a sophomore, just about carried the Blackbirds on his back, as he constantly made the big shot or free-throw. He scored 18 points in the game. Kyle Johnson had a fine game hitting three long baskets, and added 15 points and 11 rebounds for LIU. But Wisseh and Johnson weren’t enough. SFC did a good job mixing up their defenses around senior Eugene Kotorobai. And Kellen Allen was nullified from doing damage in the low post.
It’s been a frustrating season for St. Francis. They have endured two nine game losing streaks. Now, the second one is history.#