I attended the Belmont at North Florida game as the last game of my 10 sporting events in seven days road trip that took me from Michigan to Florida. The game was my third of the day and was part of a doubleheader with the women's teams from both schools playing the first game.
I was excited to finally see Rick Byrd coach, since he was suspended during the game at Marshall that I attended on December 19, 2011.
A ticket to the basketball doubleheader was only 10 dollars for a seat just a few rows from the bench near mid-court.
School was not in session so the crowd was sparse. For the women's game, I counted 47 people who were not in the pep band, a cheerleader or part of the staff or teams. The crowd did fill in a little more for men's game, but was only around 300 fans, not anywhere near the announced attendance of 1,002.
One of the more interesting things I noticed was that you could buy beer at the arena for just three dollars. Something that isn't common at most college basketball games. There was only one concession stand, but since the crowd was so small, the line was never more than a few people long.
The game itself was a bit lopsided with Belmont dominating the play after falling behind early. A 12-1 run gave Belmont the 19-12 lead with 11:17 remaining in the first half, and by halftime they had a dominating 48-30 lead.
It is quite obvious that Belmont is the top team in the league and should be able to earn the Atlantic Sun automatic bid to the NCAA tournament this March.
The second half was an opportunity for both teams to empty the benches and allow the entire roster of players to log court time.
One interesting player that took the court near the end of the game was Chad Lang for Belmont. Lang is a 6-foot-11, 275-pound freshman who was a controlling force inside the paint while he was in the game. I will be interested to see how his playing time increases as the season progresses for Belmont.
When the whistle finally blew, signalling the end of this one-sided affair in favor of Belmont 83-53, it was time for me to head home to Pennsylvania and finally get a chance to see my wife after a week away. The drive home was over 15 hours, but I made it safety and have settled back into my routine of working seven days a week.
BELMONT 83, at NORTH FLORIDA 53 01/02/2012
BELMONT 10-5 (3-0) -- D. Hanlen 4-7 0-0 12; I. Clark 4-11 0-0 9; J. Mann 4-7 3-3 13; S. Saunders 6-12 4-6 16; M. Hedgepeth 5-7 3-5 13; B. Baker 4-5 0-0 10; K. Johnson 0-2 0-0 0; B. Jenkins 1-3 0-0 2; T. Noack 1-3 0-0 2; A. Barnes 0-1 0-0 0; R. Chamberlain 0-3 2-2 2; C. Lang 2-3 0-0 4; H. Mobley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-64 12-16 83. NORTH FLORIDA 7-8 (1-1) -- J. Granberry 0-2 0-0 0; P. Smith 3-5 4-4 10; W. Wilson 1-5 0-0 2; T. Wallace 3-8 0-3 6; M. Sauey 3-3 1-2 7; C. McRoy 3-8 3-3 9; D. Jeune 2-7 0-0 4; A. Diaz 4-5 0-0 8; J. Williams 1-6 1-2 3; F. Landers 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 22-53 9-14 53.
Three-point goals: BELM 9-22 (B. Baker 2-3; D. Hanlen 4-6; M. Hedgepeth 0-1; I. Clark 1-5; B. Jenkins 0-1; K. Johnson 0-1; T. Noack 0-2; R. Chamberlain 0-1; J. Mann 2-2), UNF 0-8 (J. Williams 0-1; P. Smith 0-2; W. Wilson 0-1; C. McRoy 0-2; F. Landers 0-2); Rebounds: BELM 36 (S. Saunders 9), UNF 31 (T. Wallace 8); Assists: BELM 19 (D. Hanlen 6), UNF 8 (T. Wallace 3); Total Fouls -- BELM 14, UNF 15; Fouled Out: BELM-None; UNF-None.