So it was finally here, my first college basketball game of the season. I'd watched quite a few games via the internet and the television, but there is something special about attending an event. The live arena of college sports doesn't get much better.
I was headed to Knott Arena at the PNC Sports Complex on the campus of Mt. St. Mary's to watch the Mounties take on Siena. The Saints were probably the biggest name to visit the Knott ARCC since Winthrop played here a few years ago. The Mount faithful, which I gladly count myself as one, were hoping for a similar result.
I live in Gettysburg, the Civil War town, which is approximately 15 miles north of the campus. It's Remembrance Day weekend here in town, commemorating Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. So as I made my way through town I drove past all sorts of Civil War reenactors in full uniform. I always find it sort of strange to pass these folks in a vehicle.
But anyhow, I got to the game and the Mount was immediately recognizing the past as well. Upon entry I was handed a commemorative pin. The pin was honoring the 50 year anniversary of the Mount's National Championship team. Back in 1962 the Mount won the College Division National Championship. In those days, they were coached by the Hall of Famer Jim Phelan. He won 830 games during his career all at the Mount. You may have heard his name mentioned in the news twice this week. He was honored by the New York Athletic Club with the Joe Lapchick Award and Coach K picked up his 831st win at Duke passing Phelan on the list for most wins at one school.
Phelan's a legend around here the court is named after him and he's one of three Mountaineers to have his number retired. Of course, its tough to have a coaches number retired. So it's 830 that hangs from the rafters to honor Phelan. The other two are Fred Carter, who originated the fist bump, while playing in the NBA and Jack Sullivan. Sullivan's grandson Ryan MacTavish played 7 minutes in Presbyterian's Red Line upset of Cincinnati on Saturday.
The Mount's coach now is Robert Burke. Burke was a longtime assistant coach, including a stint at tonight's opponent Siena, before getting the Mount job before last season.
Both of these teams had down years last year after coaching changes and having been among the best teams in their respective conferences for several years before that. Both teams were also entering the game off of victories. Siena knocked off Navy in its season opener, while the Mount had won at Hartford midweek.
The game would be all about freshman guard Evan Hymes. Making his first collegiate start, the 5-8 speedster scored 30 points and keyed a 25-3 first half run for the Saints that really left little doubt about the outcome.
Hymes scored 16 points in the first half, matching the total of the homestanding Mountaineers. After darting to a 6-0 lead, Mt. St. Mary's couldn't make anything. Well anything might be a stretch, let's go with almost anything. During a fourteen minute stretch that the large run was part of, the Mount made just 1-of-18 shots.
So by the time halftime rolled around Siena held a 32-16 lead and had the confidence to get the job done on the road. Hymes after airballing his first three-pointer attempt had made his next three and his layup at the buzzer provided the margin at the break.
The second half wasn't all that more exciting. Although the Mount did slow down Siena and climbed within 9 points on two occasions. But Evan Hymes had plenty of answers for the Mount. His hoop and the harm restored the lead to double digits and his ability to convert foul shots down kept the Mount at bay.
Brandon Walters also played a key role for the Saints. He had 11 points and 12 rebounds as Siena won the battle of the boards 47-34. OD Anosike led all rebounders with 14.
Sophomore Julian Norfleet had 16 points, including five three pointers, and 7 rebounds for the Mount. Josh Castellanos (15) and Raven Barber (10) were alos in double digits for the Mount. Danny Thompson had 11 rebounds in defeat.
SIENA 65, at MOUNT SAINT MARY'S 53 11/19/2011
SIENA 2-0 (0-0) -- O. Anosike 2-9 0-0 4; E. Hymes 9-17 9-14 30; K. Downey 3-10 1-2 7; R. Poole 1-6 3-4 5; B. Walters 4-9 3-4 11; D. Beard 2-2 4-4 8; M. Hopper 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-54 20-28 65. MOUNT SAINT MARY'S 1-2 (0-0) -- J. Castellanos 4-10 5-6 15; J. Norfleet 5-16 1-2 16; R. Barber 5-8 0-0 10; D. Thompson 2-10 2-4 6; K. Parker 2-8 2-2 6; X. Owens 0-5 0-0 0; C. Holley 0-3 0-0 0; D. Kenny 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-60 10-14 53.
Three-point goals: SIE 3-8 (E. Hymes 3-5; R. Poole 0-3), MSM 7-27 (J. Castellanos 2-7; J. Norfleet 5-14; C. Holley 0-1; X. Owens 0-1; K. Parker 0-4); Rebounds: SIE 43 (O. Anosike 14), MSM 32 (D. Thompson 11); Assists: SIE 8 (K. Downey 2), MSM 11 (J. Castellanos 3); Total Fouls -- SIE 10, MSM 21; Fouled Out: SIE-None; MSM-J. Norfleet.