What it means: LIU Brooklyn is out of the Big Dance before it really began.
The Blackbirds lost to James Madison, 68-55, Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Dukes advance to the main bracket of 64 teams, as a No. 16 seed in the East region, and will play No. 1 seed Indiana in Dayton on Friday.
LIU (20-14, 12-6 NEC) made the tourney for the third season in a row -- a great achievement. But the Blackbirds are now 0-6 in NCAA tournament games. And this was their best chance to win one.
The turning point: James Madison was short-handed in the first half -- leading scorer and rebounder Rayshawn Goins was benched for 20 minutes because of his arrest over the weekend. But the Dukes jumped out in front, thanks to six first-half 3-pointers. James Madison led by as many as 12, 30-18, but LIU closed the half on a 13-2 run, highlighted by two treys by Jason Brickman. The Dukes led by just one point, 32-31, at intermission.
LIU took the lead briefly early in the second half, 40-39, on two free throws by E.J. Reed. But James Madison answered with nine straight points, capped off by a three-point play by Charles Cooke. The Blackbirds got back within three, 54-51, with just over eight minutes remaining, on a Jamal Olasewere layup -- but that's as close as they got. Goins scored his first points of the game on a putback 25 seconds later, scored again on the team's following possession, and the Dukes put the game away from there.
Star watch: Olasewere, the NEC Player of the Year, exceeded his average (18.9 ppg) by scoring 20 points, and second-leading scorer C.J. Garner hit his average with 16 points. But the other seven players who got into the game for LIU scored just 19 points combined, shooting 7-for-26 from the field.
Number crunch: LIU entered the game as the fifth-highest-scoring team in Division I, averaging 79.5 points per game -- so the Blackbirds were 24 points under their average. They shot just 35.6 percent from the field (21-for-59) and 18.8 percent from downtown (3-for-16).
James Madison's size and length clearly bothered the Blackbirds. The Dukes had 10 blocked shots on the night, compared to just one by LIU.
What's next: James Madison plays Indiana on Friday, at approximately 4:10 p.m.
LIU returns home to Brooklyn, much earlier than the Blackbirds had hoped. Olasewere and Garner, both seniors, have played their final college game.