It’s been a tough season for the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds as they started the season on an eight-game losing streak. However, they beat Northern Arizona 78-72 on Monday night to finish the non-conference portion of their schedule with wins in two out of their last three games.
Sophie Bhasin led the game with a career-high 26 points and eight rebounds. Cleandra Roberts had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds and Aleisha Myers also had a career-high 13 points. The Blackbirds shot 47.4 percent as a group, lost 50-34 in the paint, but hit six three-pointers to make up for it. It was the most points they’ve scored this season.
It wasn’t the start that LIU Brooklyn envisioned as Northern Arizona pulled out to a quick 8-0 lead. That was NAU’s largest lead of the half, but it was maintained for a while until 25-9 run by the Blackbirds left them with a 35-25 lead late in the half. Bhasin hit a three late in that run which was significant because it was her first field goal of the half and finally got her involved.
The Blackbirds needed her to get hot as she led them with 19 second-half points. The two teams were tied at 63-63 with 4:11 left to play when Bhasin hit a jumper to go up by two, then a three to go up by five, a layup to go up by seven and she finally hit a couple of free throws with 19 seconds left that put the game out of reach for NAU.
Before the season, the Blackbird’s coach Gail Striegler admitted that this team, that in her view lacked a lot of experience, was going to be slow coming on. She said that the early loses would be tough, but said that by Christmas she’d hoped the team would start turning it around. Winning two-out-of-three is no huge accomplishment, but for a team that started 0-8, they’ll take it.
The Blackbirds head back to New York, specifically Staten Island, where they will take on Wagner in the first game of the Northeast Conference portion of their schedule. They finally come back to Brooklyn on Jan. 11 when they take on St. Francis at the Barclays Center. That return will be much needed as by that point they will have played seven games in a row on the road.