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Men’s Basketball Falls 69-67 At LIU Brooklyn On Layup With 1.8 Seconds To Play


(Cooper, Wagner)

(Brooklyn, NY – LIU Brooklyn guard Julian Batts banked home a contested layup with 1.8 seconds to play and redshirt junior guard Romone Saunders' last-second launch from 40 feet bounded off the rim as the Wagner men's basketball team dropped a heartbreaking 69-67 Northeast Conference (NEC) contest on Saturday afternoon at the Steinberg Wellness Center.

With the loss, the Green & White's three-game winning streak comes to an end as the Seahawks fall to 11-6 on the season and 4-2 in the NEC, while the Blackbirds improve to 8-11 overall and even their league mark at 3-3.
The Seahawks and Blackbirds battled all game long. In an intense, evenly-played, back-and-forth contest that featured 11 ties and 13 lead changes, Saunders led three Seahawks in double figures with 18 points while senior guard JoJo Cooper (Concord) and sophomore guard Blake Francis finished with 15 and 11 points, respectively. Senior guard Shack Scott added nine points on the night while freshman forward Nigel Jackson had seven.
After taking a 36-32 halftime lead, the Blackbirds opened the second half on a 10-5 burst in building their biggest lead of the game at nine points, 46-37, with 14:36 left to play. After Batts' three-pointer capped the run, Wagner called timeout and then outscored LIU 13-3 run with Scott's layup at the 9:12 mark giving the Seahawks a 50-49 lead.
After LIU answered with a layup by Jashaun Agoston, Wagner countered with a three-pointer from Saunders with 8:26 left that gave the Seahawks a 53-51 lead. This would prove to be the Seahawks' last lead of the game although the biggest margin LIU could open up the rest of the way was five, at 64-59, when Joel Hernandez hit a jumper with 3:14 remaining.
Saunders then drilled another three-ball at the 2:14 mark to make it a 64-62 game. After Hernandez split a pair from the line with 1:20 left to push the LIU lead to 65-62, sophomore guard Blake Francis was fouled with 1:00 to go but missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity.
The Seahawks' defense then hurried Hernandez into a missed layup with redshirt junior forward AJ Sumbry corralling the rebound with 37 ticks left. This sequence set up a driving layup by Jackson off a Francis feed at the 28-second mark to make it a one-point game at 65-64. After Raquain Clark sank a pair from the line with 24 seconds left to make it 67-64, senior guard JoJo Cooper was fouled with 14 seconds left and made 1-of-2, making it 67-65. Jackson, however, was fouled on the rebound, sending him to the line for two shots with 13 seconds to go.
The freshman calmly sank the clutch pair to tie it a 67-67. LIU, electing to not call timeout, instead worked the ball to Batts who drove down the left side of the lane and lofted a left-handed back shot off the glass with 1.8 seconds left, giving the Blackbirds the win.
For the Blackbirds, Hernandez led the way, matching Saunders for game-high honors with 18, while Batts finished with 11.
Wagner opened this contest with a three-pointer from Jackson before LIU Brooklyn rattled off seven straight points. The Seahawks answered back with seven straight of their own in retaking a 10-7 advantage before Hernandez knotted the game at 10 apiece on a three-pointer of his own.
Both teams traded buckets over the next seven minutes with Wagner holding on to a 23-22 lead after Davis was able to muscle in two on a layup chance. The Blackbirds were able to seize momentum, scoring 14 of the stanza's final 23 points in taking their 36-32 halftime lead.
Wagner was paced by Cooper, who had ten points on 4-of-7 shooting while playing the full 20 minutes. Saunders chipped in eight while Scott contributed a season-high seven and four rebounds off the bench in the first half for the Seahawks, who shot 38.7 percent from the floor and were held to just 20.0 percent from beyond-the-arc.
The Green & White return home to the Spiro Sports Center for a pair of home contests beginning on Thursday, January 18 as they square against the Saint Francis U in a rematch of last season's NEC semifinals. Tipoff between the Seahawks and the Red Flash is slated for 7:00 p.m. and the game will be carried live on NEC Front Row

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