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Wagner College Falcons 94, Long Island Blackbirds 92

Blackbirds fall to Wagner on late putback

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Long Island University fought back from a double-digit deficit in the final minutes, but a last-second put-back by Kenneth Ortiz handed the Blackbirds a heartbreaking 94–92 loss to Staten Island’s Wagner College on Sunday on the Rock.

Long Island’s Jason Brickman hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 92–92 with 13 seconds remaining before Wagner guard Latif Rivers pushed the ball up the court and slashed to the basket, missing a layup that bounced off the top of the glass.

The defense collapsed on Rivers, leaving Ortiz alone to collect the rebound and score with 0.8 seconds remaining to giving Wagner the lead, and prematurely sending its fans onto the court.

When order was restored, Wagner forward Jonathon Williams, who scored a team-high 20 points, stole the ensuing in-bounds pass, ending the game and sending the fans back onto the court to celebrate.

The final turnover was just one of many that plagued the Blackbirds (15–13, 10–6) in the second half. The team committed 12 of its 17 after the break, and suffered its second straight defeat.

“We did a really good job of taking care of the basketball in the first half, and a poor job in the second half, and that was pretty much the reason why we” Blackbirds coach Jack Perri said.

His team entered the second half with a seven-point lead, but they quickly saw it shrink as the Seahawks (16–11, 10–6) rallied. It took less than five minutes for Wagner to come back and tie the score at 52–52 with 15:47 remaining in the game. From that point forward, it was a back-and-forth contest until the Seahawks extended the lead to 10 points with just over two minutes remaining.

Then it was the Blackbirds’ turn to comeback.

The loss puts the Blackbirds in a tie for fourth place in the conference with Wagner with just two games remaining in the season.

“Our guys made plays down the stretch,” Perri said. “They made shots and got stops, and executed our press well.”

C.J. Garner scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the second half for Long Island University, which saw Wagner’s bench out-scored it 40–23. Reserve Mario Moody scored 19 points for the second time this season against the Blackbirds.

“When we get a collective effort in terms of scoring, we can be a really dangerous team,” Wagner coach Bashir Mason said.

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