BELFAST — LIU Brooklyn played its game to knock off the Albany Great Danes, 80-77, in the final game of day one at the Belfast Classic on Thursday.
The two teams played a wild game, but the whole evening looked like Albany’s attempt to match the manic pace of the Blackbirds under Derek Kellogg.
The first half was some of the worst offensive basketball that two teams could possibly play. Albany turned the ball over on 33 percent of its possessions, while LIU turned the ball over on 23 percent of its possessions. LIU shot 29 percent from inside the arc and 13 percent from distance. Albany was at 40 percent from inside the arc and 20 percent from deep, but went to the line 16 times.
Albany went on a 14-2 run behind Cameron Healy and Adam Lulka late in the first half to extend its lead to 12 points. The Great Danes gained the upper hand when they slowed things down, but the temptation of speed did them in.
Starting with the first possession of the second half, Albany chose to run with the Blackbirds, taking open shots within seven seconds and playing into the madcap style that LIU wanted to impose.
”We’ve been working to try to get the pace of the game faster and more chaotic,” LIU Brooklyn coach Derek Kellogg said. “It didn’t really happen much in the first half, but we loosened them up in the second half. We kept at it, made some shots, and we were very fortunate to come away with a win. Our guys kept competing and good things happen once in a while.”
Raiquan Clark, who scored 20 of his 27 in the go-go second half, said “we told each other we just have to kick out and hit shots. We played more defense in the second half, got a lot of turnovers and things started to go our way.”
”With you have a young & inexperienced team,” said Albany’s head coach Will Brown, “one of the keys was to not to get caught up playing LIU’s tempo [in the game plan]. And I thought we got caught in a trap playing LIU’s style of basketball. We’re not where we need to right now be in terms of controlling tempo.”
LIU wasn’t much better for stretches. One sequence of eight possessions added up to five Albany turnovers, three LIU turnovers, one LIU make off a steal, and one miss.
The LIU full-court pressure did the Danes in eventually.
”I thought we played sloppy for 40 minutes,” Brown added. “I thought LIU’s pressure bothered us the entire game.”
Next up, the Blackbirds face Marist, led by a coach they faced last season in former Saint Peter’s coach John Dunne.
“I have a pretty good feel of what they do,” Kellogg said. “It’ll be kind of a grind game. They play a ton of attention on the defensive end of the floor.”
LIU will face Marist Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET (7:30 in Northern Ireland), while Albany and Dartmouth face off at noon.
- At 80 possessions, the game was even faster than the Iona opener, where Albany also played a bit too fast against an opponent that wanted to create chaos. Besides those two games, the fastest pace of an Albany Division I contest this season was 68 possessions.
- Clark starred, but also played heavy minutes with another game coming. Jashaun Agosto logged 33 minutes and Ty Flowers played 34. “I’ll be conscious [tomorrow] as the game goes on to give these guys a break,” Derek Kellogg said, planning to play more of his bench tomorrow to keep his stars fresh. “I really wasn’t worried much about tomorrow night. I felt I needed to ride my starters [tonight].”
- LIU shot 9-13, from beyond the arc in the second half — a half where it scored 1.0 points per possession (versus the 0.59 of the first half).
- Newcomers Dallas Lauderdale and Sasha French for Albany both had solid stretches where they provided a strong presence on both ends for the Great Danes.
- Healy had 22 points for the Danes.