The LIU Post men’s basketball team has now won six consecutive games after defeating the University of the District of Columbia Firebirds (14-3) on Saturday, January 21st, by a score of 92-85. The win keeps the Pioneers (13-4) a perfect 7-0 in East Coast Conference play and gives them sole possession of first place within the conference as well.
Entering Saturday’s game, there were several storylines surrounding the two teams. First, it was a battle of the top two teams in the ECC, as the Firebirds had the best overall record, while the Pioneers were perfect in conference play. Second, since this season is the first year the University of DC has joined the ECC, this meeting provided the first game between the two sides. And, lastly, the game featured four of the top five scorers in the conference. Pioneers senior guard Stefan Bonneau is the leader, averaging 22.2 points per game, while junior guard Tobin Carberry is fifth, averaging 18.9 points per game. The Firebirds boast senior guards Nigel Munson (20.4 ppg) and Brandon Herbert (20.1), the second and third leading scorers in the league.
In a competitive, back-and-forth game, the Pioneers had a two-point advantage at the end of the first half, 42-40. The first half alone saw six ties and six lead changes, and the biggest lead in the game was held by the Pioneers when they had a twelve-point lead late in the game.
In a game that featured the two highest scoring teams in the ECC, as well as four of the top five individual scorers in the conference, a quick pace was shown on offense for both sides. Bonneau led the Pioneers in scoring with 32 points on an efficient 11-21 shooting and also nailed five three-pointers. Carberry was in foul trouble for much of the first half and struggled to find his shot all game long, only shooting 1-8 from the field finishing with 12 points. However, down the stretch, Carberry was clutch at the free-throw line going 10-10, putting the game on ice for the Pioneers.
Pioneers sophomore forward Vaughn Allen and freshman forward Tyuan Williams each posted double-doubles, displaying toughness down low. Allen, the ECC’s leading rebounder, averaging 9.6 boards per game, finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds including a clutch offensive rebound and put-back in the final minute of play. Williams also continued his solid play as he dropped 10 points and secured 17 rebounds.
The Firebirds’ Nigel Munson scored a game-high 35 points, and was unstoppable as he constantly attacked the basket, finishing shooting 15-25 from the floor. Brandon Herbert scored 21 points, but the Firebirds did not get much help from the remaining players on the floor on the offensive end. Senior guard Dishawn Bradshaw was erratic all afternoon, shooting 2-14 from the field, finishing with eight points; six points below his season average.
The Pioneers held an advantage in several statistics including three-point shooting, free-throw shooting, and rebounding. The Pioneers shot 32 percent (6-19) from beyond the arc, while the Firebirds struggled, going 12 percent (2-17) from three point range. The Pioneers were frequent visitors at the charity stripe, shooting 30-40, while the Firebirds went 15-19 from the free-throw line. And, the Pioneers held a 53-43 rebounding advantage over the Firebirds.
With the 92-85 win, the Pioneers put an end to the Firebirds’ 14-game home win streak, which dated back to last season. In addition, the Pioneers continued their winning streak, which is now at six games. Since the calendar flipped to January, the Pioneers have yet to lose a game, outscoring their opponents by over an average of 17 points per game. The Pioneers will look to continue that trend in their next game this Saturday, January 28th, on the road against the Dowling Golden Lions (6-10) at 3:30 p.m.