Good morning, everyone! We're back at the Barclays Center for the Battle of Brooklyn, the epic duel between LIU-Brooklyn and St. Francis College. $17 for general admission isn't bad, though generalish admission might be closer; they're herding people into the three sections behind the benches, center court. I think this game's on regional television, which is why they want it to look as crowded as possible (though given that we were the 49th and 50th tickets sold for actual-facts money, about twenty minutes before tip, I'm not holding out much hope for that).
This is an LIU home game, not just because LIU is wearing the white and St. Francis red, but because this is LIU's announcer and they're running the usual LIU ads.
St. Francis has a mascot! I've never seen the mascot at games before, so this is kind of cool. Rivalry games tend out to bring out all the stops for everyone- I remember Lafayette-Lehigh, when Lehigh's mascot and cheerleaders were in the stands at Lafayette's gym, in full game gear. So far the mascots haven't come into direct contact, but they've both been having fun. The Terriers' mascot danced with LIU's dance team, the Blackbird wandered around the empty seats on the other side of the arena.
At halftime, St. Francis is up 37-26, and they've been playing really well. It's a good, competitive game, though it was a bit shaky at the outset. St. Francis has had eight players score, led by the seven points of Leah Fechko. Cleandra Roberts leads LIU with 12. She's been gtting the back door and the baseline all day. Jessica Kaufman's been caught sleeping more than once.
Dude behind the St. Francis bench, why are you not wearing a shirt, you need to be wearing a shirt, you are not attractive Oh, okay, he's putting on body paint. A little late for that, son.
Lots of people here. The center section, where we are, is pretty well mixed LIU and SFC.
Awkward LOL moment: a loose ball in the first half bounced off about six players. I yelled "PINBALL!" at the same time and in the same intonation as the stranger behind me.
Seriously, y'all should have thought of the body paint earlier, it's almost time for the second half. They got it together before the under-12, though.
It was a surprisingly competitive game for a game without a competitive score. It was also one of the purest examples I've ever seen as to why a team effort will defeat a spectacular single-player effort almost all of the time.
St. Francis went deep into their bench at the end of the game, when they were up 20. Colette Hounshell showed good hustle going after a loose ball near the end. Olivia Levey didn't play much, but made a big impact when she did- she's not very fast, but she's very big, and LIU didn't have anyone who could realistically get in her way. Kiley Grabbe, who has the third most apropos surname I've ever seen for a post player (second being Jessica Anger, first being Sylvia Fowles) gave good defensive minutes on the inside. Jasmin Robinson ran a solid offense, though she had an extended brain fart with two quick fouls in the second half- boxing out a rebounder is a good plan, boxing out a shooter is less than effective. Nice shot, though- she hit a three in the first half off a pretty pass from Jaymee Veney. I honestly thought Sarah Benedetti started, but she just gave a lot of critical minutes. Didn't shoot well, but defended well enough. She went down with a foot injury late in the game, and I think her team was worried about her- the mascot was one of the people (creatures? Beings?) to check in on her while she was being tended to on the bench. The bench didn't necessarily produce great stats, but they kept the pressure on LIU and continued to execute.
I honestly don't remember Katie Fox. Her name never got spoken, and the NCAA box score I'm using to complement my bootleg scoresheet doesn't include assists. Eilidh Simpson kicked up the offense in the second half, getting open on the wing for quick jumpers and making things happen for her team. Jessica Kaufman didn't seem to be looking to score, but set a lot of good screens to get her teammates free. Jaymee Veney got in early foul trouble, which kept her on the bench and made her less effective. She was more of a factor in the second half, and I still want to know if she called glass on that three high off the side of the backboard. Leah Fechko had a big second half, coming up with jumpers and hustle plays- I saw a lot of the back of her jersey as she went after loose balls. I think she was the one who went into the flimsy seats of the front row after a loose ball.
St. Francis is not the most talented team out there, not by a long shot. But they work well together and execute well. They had a couple of nice passing sequences that led to baskets.
Genise Presley got good hard rebounds for LIU and set good screens, but some boneheaded defensive plays that were a little too physical for my liking. Sophie Bhasin looked to shoot, but for most of the game, she couldn't get that shot to go down. Demi Tomlinson had a really pretty three-point shot that she showed off early in the game, but her defense had much fault to be found. She flopped a fair bit. LIU cleared their bench near the end of the game, but none of them were memorable.
Cleandra Roberts did all the things for LIU. She was their primary, secondary, and tertiary offensive option, whether in the paint, on the wing, or cleaning up the endless misses of her teammates. Everything ran through her, everything was for her, everything was because of her. She's very athletic, not the best shooter, but a solid player. A little lazy on defense. Fanny Cavallo is an excellent rebounder, but a very bad shooter who relied a lot on the glass. Letava Whippy made a lot of hustle plays that turned into dead ends with missed shots or blown passes later in the possession. Kelly Robinson ran the offense when she was in, but I don't know how much trust her coach had in her today- it looked like Tomlinson was getting more of her minutes. Aleisha Myers was pesky defensively, but ineffective offensively.
LIU honestly looked like they didn't have a plan beyond "give it to Roberts", and while that was a very effective plan, generally success in basketball requires having a second plan in place in case the first plan doesn't work. St. Francis had plans. LIU, not so much.
The officials were really good, IMO, and communicated well with coaches and players on calls, though there were a couple of oddities. The strangest was on a St. Francis inbounds: a player was ready to throw the ball in, another player ran out of bounds to the end zone to receive the pass, and the first player passed to the second player, who inbounded the ball. I wasn't sure if that was a situation where that was permissible.
I love the Battle of Brooklyn. I love this rivalry. I love the idea that, if LIU gets their act back together and Thurston can keep developing things at St. Francis, the NEC title game could someday be a deciding Battle. That would be boss.
St. Francis has really lousy facilities, but I think it might be time to pay them another visit...
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