FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Sacred Heart men's basketball team led by two at halftime over the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds Tuesday night at the Pitt Center, but the Blackbirds used a hot-shooting second half to win 80-75.
The Pioneers had four players score in double-figures, led by Evan Kelley's (Norwalk, Conn.) 15 pointsoff the bench. Mostafa Abdel Latif (Alexandria, Egypt) and Phil Gaetano (Wallingford, Conn.) each scored 11 points. Abdel Latif had a team-high nine rebounds as Gaetano had nine assists. De'von Barnett (Waldorf, Md.) had 10 points and two steals.
Both Sacred Heart (4-25, 1-13 NEC) and LIU Brooklyn (9-18, 4-10 NEC) were slow out of the gate, as the two teams combined to go 1-for-13 from the field in the first 4:08. The Pioneers opened the game on a 6-2 run, as a Kelley fastbreak layup put Sacred Heart up by four at the 15:08 mark. The lead grew to eight, 11-3, with 14:13 remaining in the first half on a Gaetano three-pointer and another fastbreak basket by Kelley. The Blackbirds responded with an 8-0 run over the next 1:57 as a Gerrell Martin triple tied the game at 11-11.
Kelley scored five straight points to break the tie, knocking down a three with 11:40 left in the first to give Sacred Heart a 16-11 advantage. LIU Brooklyn then went on a 10-1 run, taking a 21-17 lead at the 8:36 mark after back-to-back threes by Martin. The Pioneers came back with another run, scoring nine of the next 11 points to go up 26-23 on a Barnett bucket with 5:16 to play in the half. LIU Brooklyn cut the deficit to two by halftime, 30-28.
The Blackbirds quickly took back the lead to start the second half. Martin, Jason Brickman, and Troy Joseph scored LIU Brooklyn's first seven points to make the score 35-32 1:41 into the half. Steve Glowiak (New Britain, Conn.) got Sacred Heart within two with a three at the 14:51 mark, making the score 41-39 but the Pioneers went cold from there. A Landon Atterberry layup sparked a 9-0 Blackbirds run over the next 2:32 to put LIU Brooklyn ahead 50-39. LIU Brooklyn led by as much 14 in the second half before the Pioneers made a barrage of threes in the last four minutes to get as close as five. The Blackbirds led 78-68 with 0:25 left when an Abdel Latif layup and Gaetano three got Sacred Heart within five, 78-73, with 19 seconds left.
LIU Brooklyn shot 71.4% from the field in the second half to shoot 47.1% from the field for the game. Sacred Heart shot 38% from the field and made 12 of 18 free throws. The Pioneers outrebounded the Blackbirds 38-37 and committed just 12 turnovers to LIU Brooklyn's 18. Martin led all players with 26 points as Brickman and E.J. Reed each scored 14 points. Brickman led all players with 12 assists while Reed had a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Pioneers play their final road game of the season on Thursday, Feb. 27 with a 7:00 p.m. game at Mount St. Mary's.