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LIU wins Battle of Brooklyn

Michael Culpo shoots a three-pointer for LIU. February

Michael Culpo shoots a three-pointer for LIU. February 24, 2011. Credit: LIU Athletics

The Battle of Brooklyn turned out to be more than just a contest between inner-Borough rivals LIU-Brooklyn and St. Francis NY. It was more of a statement game for New York City, which in the midst of a basketball resurgence.

The game lived up to the hype as LIU prevailed, 81-78, in front of nearly 1,500 at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center in downtown Brooklyn.

It’s a game of significance because it’s been a rare occurrence over the years when both LIU and St. Francis are having good seasons simultaneously. The Terriers (13-12, 10-4 NEC) entered the game trailing LIU (19-7, 13-1) by just two games in the conference standings.

Had the Terriers prevailed, it would have been a wild three-team race between LIU, Wagner and St. Francis for the conference championship. Then it really would’ve been a Battle of Brooklyn (and the NEC). Winning the regular season title locks up an NIT bid.

LIU beat St. Francis, 86-77, at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Once the game ended at Madison Square Garden, all we talked about was the Battle of Brooklyn,” said LIU coach Jim Ferry. “It’s always a crazy game. They are always this way.”

Both teams got big performances from its big guns. LIU junior forward Jamal Olasewere had a career-high, 32 points on 11-for-11 shooting and fellow junior Julian Boyd had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Akeem Johnson had 23 points and nine rebounds and Ben Mockford had 14 for St. Francis.

The game also proved that great rivalries can occur anywhere. The fact that this exciting rivalry resides in Brooklyn makes it even more special, according to St. Francis coach Glenn Braica.

“It’s great for Brooklyn and for the whole city if you look at the record of Wagner, LIU and us,” said Braica. “It’s been a pretty outstanding for New York City and more importantly Brooklyn with the new arena coming.”

LIU has already secured a date in the Barclays Center for next season. The Blackbirds will play Morehead State in the Barclays Center Classic as part of a double header which also features Kentucky and Maryland. Who knows? The Terriers could end up enticing the Barclays Center management to book them for a game, too.

“I think we’ve made some people take notice that these kids are good players and good people,” said Braica. “It’s a good brand of basketball, a fun brand of basketball to watch. Anyone who watched the game on TV or in person got their money’s worth.”


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