By Anthony Covino
Fairleigh Dickinson beat LIU Brooklyn 80-77 tonight to extend its Northeast Conference win streak to four. The game was broadcast live on ESPNU and promoted heavily by Student Life all this second week of classes.
The Rothman Center was electric. The estimated attendance was 990, and every minute of the game was loud. The fans cheers of “DEFENSE” and “LET’S GO KNIGHTS” keyed the Knights to their seventh win at home.
“I’m just so happy with the crowd — that was an FDU win from our administration to our manager, to the last fan, to the alumni,” FDU head coach Greg Herenda said. “ I’m just so happy that tonight everyone was there to celebrate a good team and a good win against a really good opponent. I couldn’t be happier. It was a team effort, but it was a team effort off the court. Student Life did a great job, all the sports were awesome, they came. The baseball team, especially, came in full uniform. That just means so much to our student-athletes to know that this is college basketball and we can bring big-time college basketball here to Hackensack and Teaneck and I’m just really really happy for my team, but I’m also happy for the university.”
The Knights improved to 10-11 with a 5-4 record in the NEC, and are now tied for second in the standings. LIU Brooklyn fell to 10-11 with a 4-5 record in the league and are tied for seventh. The Knights step closer to first place Robert Morris, which lost 76-73 tonight against Saint Francis University. The Knights host Robert Morris Saturday, Feb. 4, at 4:30 p.m.
Against LIU, the Knights started out struggling to take command on offense. Down 25-15 midway through the first half, they closed with a 30-13 run to go into the break ahead, 45-38. The Knights led the whole second half, until the last 4 minutes when LIU Brooklyn cut the lead to 66-64. The Knights were still able to hold their lead, hitting eight of nine free throws and playing man-to-man defense to hold off LIU Brooklyn in the last two minutes.
Five Knights scored in double digits. Senior guard Darnell Edge led the Knights with 20 and played every minute. Junior forward Kaleb Bishop had 16 points and 8 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jahlil Jenkins had 15 points and 9 assists. Senior forward Mike Holloway Jr. had 11 points and 8 rebounds. Sophomore guard Xzavier Malone-Key added 10 points. Sophomore forward Elyjah Williams had 8 points as well.
Four players on LIU Brooklyn scored in double-digits. The leading scorer for LIU Brooklyn was junior guard Julian Batts with 17. Sophomore forward Ty Flowers and senior guard Raul Frias both had 16 points. NEC leading scorer Raiquan Clark was held to 15 points.
Every LIU Brooklyn free throw was entertaining to watch as several FDU baseball players ran to the other side of the court to distract the player with dancing and loud shouts. LIU Brooklyn shot 6-12 (50 percent) from the free-throw line. The Blackbirds made only 9 of their 23 three-point attempts. FDU hit 9 of 15 from three-point range.
The fans’ energy filled the arena. From fans cheering to singing along to the songs played, the atmosphere of the arena was like a playoff.