Thirty minutes into perhaps the biggest game of his team's season, Long Island University guard C.J. Garner attempted a pass few others would have made under the circumstances.
With the Blackbirds leading Robert Morris by 12 in the Northeast Conference title game and a spot in the NCAA tournament on the line, Garner spied Julian Boyd streaking toward the basket and lofted a lob pass from beyond the mid-court stripe. Garner's pass was on target and the NEC Player of the Year finished the play with a two-handed alley-oop slam, a highlight-worthy play that helped propel LIU to a 90-73 victory.
"Me and Julian, we have a connection on the alley-oops," Garner told reporters afterward. "I knew to just throw it up there."
Attempting a pass like that might get a guard benched in the slow-paced Big Ten, but LIU is accustomed to playing at a revved-up tempo.
The Blackbirds (25-8, 16-2) average the third-most points per game in the nation at 81.9 and they also rank in the top 15 nationally in possessions per game. The pace worked in LIU's favor in the NEC title game because Robert Morris got caught up in it, attempting 26 threes and missing 21 of them to fuel the Blackbirds' transition game.
All the showtime-style fast break highlights helped attract a celebrity fan to Wednesday's game: Film director and Brooklyn native Spike Lee. Tweeted Lee afterward, "Big Congrats To LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds For Defeating Robert Morris.Welcome To March Madness.Brooklyn GOES HARD.