Gerrell Martin stood, lurking, several feet behind the 3-point line begging Jason Brickman for the basketball.
Brickman, who had already dished out 11 assists on the night, zipped a pass over to the open Martin, who was creeping closer to the long-range barrier. He caught the pass, pulled up, and calmly sank a tiebreaking and game winning 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left. The gym erupted; E.J. Reed stomped on the court and took off his jersey.
The win capped off a blistering second half for the Blackbirds, in which they scored 48 points. It was much needed after an opening stanza in which LIU faltered on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.
“We just executed better,” LIU-Brooklyn head coach Jack Perri said of his team’s second half performance. “We got out and ran in transition so we got more points in the paint. We did a little bit better job offensive rebounding.”
It was a tale of two halves for the Blackbirds (4-6) on Tuesday night at the Wellness Recreation and Athletic Center. The Blackbirds played a stagnant offense and lackluster defense in the first, but made crisp passes and timely shots in the second. In the end it was enough for the 82-79 win.
Lamar took them to school before the break, outscoring LIU 24-8 in the paint en route to a 42-34 halftime lead.
The Cardinals (1-9) gained control late in the opening stanza. With the score knotted at 31, Lamar was able to get in transition three straight times off of three missed shots by the Blackbirds over the span of 53 seconds and finish at the rim with ease.
“I’m disappointed with our defense, it’s all we talk about in practice, defending the rebound,” Perri said. We’re not there yet. With only eight guys, it put pressure on us to not foul. We did a poor job of that in the first half.”
But for all the defensive lapses, the Blackbirds made up for it with an efficient second half outburst. LIU started the half on a 10-2 spurt to tie the score. Reed played a huge role, getting to the rim at will, scoring the first two second half buckets to get momentum. Normally plagued by fouls, Reed played 17-second half minutes and collected with 11 of his team high 19 points after the intermission.
LIU took its first lead of the half on a Troy Joseph three with just over seven minutes to play.
Joseph took a pass from Jason Brickman, lined up his shot and stared, holding the follow-through until it went through the net.
The Cardinals would work their way back though, eventually tying the score on a Nimrod Hilliard layup with just a few ticks remaining. That’s when Brickman inbounded the ball and did what he had done all evening.
“Coach Perri told me, if they score, just try and get it up quick and go,” Brickman said. “They scored pretty quick, we still had 6 seconds. So I just pushed, tried to make a play, and found Gerrell open.”
And Martin, who had been 0-5 from long range before a 3-pointer just minutes before, obliged, connecting on his second buzzer beating shot in as many games at the WRAC.
“(Coach) just said every time I’m open just shoot it,” Martin said. “That just gave me the confidence, that every time I get the ball, it’s going in, and that’s what happened.”
Sam Blum is a writer for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on twitter at @SamBlum3.