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St. Francis storms past rival Blackbirds

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They didn’t weather the storm.

While Brooklynites shoveled their walks after Winter Storm Jonas on Jan. 24, Long Island University men’s basketball team was trying to dig itself out of a different hole. The Blackbirds froze up amid a second-half, comeback flurry from St. Francis College and lost the 41st Annual Battle of Brooklyn 64–49 at the Wellness Center on Jan. 24.

The Terriers squad has won its last four match-ups against the Blackbirds, so St. Francis has bigger fish to fry than its long-time foe, one player said.

“It’s always great to beat a rival like LIU Brooklyn, but I just hope we can use this to put a winning streak together so that we can begin to build some momentum,” said forward Amdy Fall (11 points, 13 rebounds).

The Blackbirds (9–10, 3–5) led in the first half, but St. Francis (9–13, 4–4) out-scored its rival 39–19 after the break.

St. Francis College senior forward Chris Hooper led the Terriers’ rebound, coming off the bench to score a team-high 15 points and earn Most Valuable Player honors.

“We were very sluggish at the start, but Chris really kept us in the game until the rest of us were able to pick it up,” Fall said. “He definitely deserved the MVP award.”

The Blackbirds went into the half with a five-point lead behind Jerome Frink (16 points), Martin Hermannsson (11 points), and Joel Hernandez (11 points), but the lead didn’t last long. Hooper converted two straight layups to cap a 10–0 run that tied the score at 35–35 early in the second half.

But the team’s unsung hero was forward Antonio Jenifer — he had just three points in the first half, but he dropped in eight when it counted most. When Hermannsson pulled the Blackbirds to within one point on a floater in the lane, Jenifer (11 points, 11 rebounds) responded by driving to the cup for two and put the Terriers back up 50–47 with 4:24 left to play.

Tyreek Jewell (13 points) and Yunus Hopkinson (nine points) were both in foul trouble in the first half, but they combined to drain 10 free throws in the contest’s final six minutes to seal the win for St. Francis.

The Terriers’ dogged offense proves the team has more depth than people give it credit for, Hooper said.

“I was really proud of my teammates for doing a great job when I was on the bench,” Hooper said. “It’s nice when we can prove people wrong who think that I’m the only one who can score in the post.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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