Goshen News, Goshen, IN

November 12, 2013

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Hoosiers barely hold off LIU-Brooklyn


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Tom Crean and Indiana fans kept shaking their heads Tuesday night.

Eventually, Indiana's players got the message.

They spent the second half driving hard to the basket to create open outside shots, and eventually Will Sheehey took advantage. He made back-to-back 3-pointers late in the game, and the Hoosiers survived two potentially winning shots in the final 5 seconds to hold off pesky LIU-Brooklyn 73-72.

"I knew Will would make shots at the end because he does it for us every day," Indiana point guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell said.

For the Hoosiers (2-0), it was a ragged night. They shot 38 percent from the field and finished 7 of 26 on 3-pointers. They had more turnovers (14) than assists (13). They gave up nine offensive rebounds and at one point missed 16 consecutive 3-pointers.

The combination created angst throughout the usually loud and raucous Assembly Hall.

Crean, the Hoosiers coach, was as active on the sideline as he was for some of last season's biggest games when the Hoosiers were ranked or playing the nation's No. 1 team. Indiana fans repeatedly jumped to their feet in the second half, only to sit down when the game-changing spurt they expected didn't materialize. And those same fans held their breath both times Blackbirds point guard Jason Brickman came within a whisker of pulling off a stunning upset.

His layup with 5 seconds left was too hard and his 3-pointer was on target but fell just short as the buzzer sounded.

That's how close LIU-Brooklyn (1-1) was to beating a Big Ten foe for just the third time in school history.

"If we didn't have the capacity to get better, if we didn't have the capacity to improve inside the game, if we didn't have the capacity to understand what the game was giving us, we would have lost by 10 or 12 points," Crean said. "But as many mistakes as we made, we had enough to get over the top."

Indiana got 17 points from Ferrell. Freshman Noah Vonleh added with 17 points and 11 rebounds, his second straight double-double, and the Hoosiers shot 51.6 percent from the field in the second half. They barely avoided losing their first home game to a non-conference foe since falling to Loyola (Md.) in December 2009.

And LIU-Brooklyn played well enough to win.

Troy Joseph led the Blackbirds with 16 points and six rebounds. E.J. Reed and Gilbert Parga each had 15 points, and Brickman scored 11 points and had 10 assists as he continued his quest to become the fourth player in Division I history with 1,000 career assists.

Brickman just couldn't get those last two shots to go in.

"I saw the clock, I saw 1 second and I just tried to get it up," he said. "It looked good, but it was short."

For most of the night, the Blackbirds dictated the pace in a rare early season contest between defending conference champs.

LIU-Brooklyn used a 14-0 first-half run to wipe out Indiana's 10-4 lead and didn't trail again until Sheehey made a 15-footer with 17:33 left in the game.

Brickman managed to keep LIU-Brooklyn under control, rallying to rebuild a 50-46 lead, neither team led by more than four over the final 13½ minutes.

Sheehey finally tied the score for the ninth and last time when he knocked down a 3 with 2:43 to go.

He did it again on Indiana's next possession, giving Indiana a 73-70 lead with 1:57 left.

"I felt like more toward the end, we got down and we had more of a will," Ferrell said.

Thirty seconds later, Brickman answered with two free throws to make it 73-72, setting up a wild finish.

Indiana had a chance to seal the victory after Brickman missed the layup, but Devin Davis missed the front end of a one-and-one. Brickman then grabbed the rebound and dribbled to the other end of the court, launching a 25-footer that hit nothing but air as the buzzer sounded.

"We wanted to get it up the court quick," Brickman said with a dejected expression. "If they made them both, we were going to take it out real quick and just try to get an open shot. But it just came up short at the end."

Giving Crean, the Hoosiers and their fans one last chance to exhale.

"I think we really had to win tonight," Crean said. "We won, and I thought they played fantastic."