SportsPulse: E News All Sports’ Scott Gleeson and Lindsay Schnell break down the teams hoping to reach the tournament.
NEW YORK (AP) — Joel Hernandez had 32 points and seven rebounds, and LIU Brooklyn shocked New York City rival Wagner 71-61 on Tuesday night to win the Northeast Conference Tournament title and earn its first NCAA Tournament bid in five years.
Raiquan Clark had 20 points and eight rebounds for the fourth-seeded Blackbirds (18-16), who handed the top-seeded Seahawks (23-9) their first loss this season on their Staten Island campus.
Romone Saunders had 17 points and Devin Liggeons had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Wagner.
LIU Brooklyn never trailed after Hernandez converted a three-point play with 12:05 left in the first half, and the Blackbirds went on a 15-2 run to take a 34-19 lead into halftime.
Wagner cut the deficit to seven three times in the final six minutes, the last time with 59 seconds left, but the Seahawks didn’t score again. Hernandez made two free throws with 38 seconds left to seal it.
LIU Brooklyn: The Blackbirds made the NCAA Tournament three straight years from 2011-13 and are headed back for the first time since then.
Wagner: The Seahawks missed a chance for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003 and will go to the NIT as the NEC regular-season champion. They also won the regular-season title two years ago.
BATTLE OF THE BOROUGHS
This was just the second time two New York City teams faced off in the NEC title game. The previous time was also at Spiro Center in 2003, when Wagner beat St. Francis Brooklyn.
LIU Brooklyn: On to the NCAA Tournament.
Wagner: On to the NIT.