BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- A quick take on LIU Brooklyn's 78-75 win over Quinnipiac on Sunday evening at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center.
WHAT IT MEANS: LIU Brooklyn (24-8, 16-2 NEC), the Northeast Conference regular season champions, survive a strong challenge from No. 5 seed Quinnipiac, and advance to the NEC championship game for the second straight season. The Blackbirds are one win away from going to the NCAA tournament in back-to-back years.
Quinnipiac heads home with a final record of 18-13 on the year.
THE SKINNY: The lead changed hands nine times in the first half of this game. LIU got out in front by as many as 10, 38-28, with 2:18 remaining before intermission. But Quinnipiac closed the gap to 40-36 at halftime. LIU shot just 1-for-10 from 3-point range in the first half, but was 9-for-10 from the foul line.
Quinnipiac scored on its first two possessions of the second half to tie the game at 40, and eventually led by as many as eight, 65-57 with 7:35 to play. But then LIU Brooklyn came roaring back, with a 16-4 run to regain the lead, 73-69. Once the Blackbirds got the lead back, they never relinquished it again, and finished off the Bobcats at the foul line. A meaningless Quinnipiac 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the final margin from six to three.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Julian Boyd, the NEC Player of the Year, had 21 points and nine rebounds to lead the Blackbirds. Three of his teammates were also in double figures -- Jason Brickman (18), Jamal Olasewere (13) and C.J. Garner (11).
Ike Azotam and James Johnson led Quinnipiac with 17 points apiece.
NUMBER CRUNCH: LIU entered the game shooting 37.4 percent from 3-point range, ranking them 45th in the country. But the Blackbirds were just 4-for-19 (21.1 percent) from beyond the arc in this game.
On the other hand, LIU outscored Quinnipiac 22 to 5 at the foul line. The Blackbirds shot 22-for-30, while the Bobcats were just 5-for-10. That was huge.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Northeast Conference championship game, Wednesday night at 7 p.m. LIU will host No. 3 seed Robert Morris, in a rematch of last season's title clash.