AFTER LEAVING USC-UPSTATE I HAD A FEW HOURS TO BLOW BEFORE I MADE THE SHORT RIDE TO CLINTON. PRESBYTERIAN WAS HOSTING LIBERTY, BUT THE GAME WASN'T UNTIL 7PM SO I PULLED IN TO A LOCAL BUFFALO WILD WINGS. I'M ALWAYS A FAN OF B-DUBS SINCE THEY WILL PUT ANY GAME ON FOR YOU, HAVE WI-FI, AND HAVE PRETTY DECENT FOOD AND PRICES. DUKE AND MARYLAND WERE ON, BUT WHO WANTS TO WATCH THAT? I PAID MORE ATTENTION TO WICHITA ST AND CREIGHTON WHILE I CHECKED OUT THE DELUGE OF #ALLCAPSDAY TWEETS THAT WERE COMING THROUGH.
I didn't want to make the same mistake twice in the same day, so I looked up a Presbyterian College campus map to find out exactly where the arena was. I had no problem finding it this time around, but was surprised at how full the parking lot was 30 minutes before game time. I soon came to find out that this was Senior Night for the Blue Hose.
This came as a pleasant surprise since it would be the last home game for PC seniors Al'Lonzo Coleman, Pierre Miller, and Josh Johnson. All three were red-shirted after their sophomore seasons. PC was aiming for 2012 to be its peak year with a strong 5th year senior class in its first year of eligibility for post season play. It was a similar plan to what North Dakota State did in 2009 and the ensuing Bison Fever.
It was a solid plan until the NCAA ruled that PC would be ineligible to play in the post season this year. All three players had a chance to transfer, but they all stayed with the program. I really admired the commitment these 3 have had to Presbyterian. It's too bad they won't have at least to have gotten the chance to play in the Big Dance. Still, I offer congratulations to the trio, and fellow senior Jay Reynolds, on a great career at PC.
PC had been playing well as of late with 3 straight wins, so a possibility of a late run through the Big South Tournament could have been there if the Blue Hose were eligible. Their opponent, Liberty was winners of 3 of 4 and surging late in the season as well. One of those wins was a buzzer beater miracle shot from Antwan Burrus to down Charleston Southern.
I wasn't expecting too much of a high paced game considering neither team plays at a very quick tempo, with Presbyterian being one of the slowest teams in the country. So it was no surprise when the scored was tied at 11 with nearly 10 minutes off the clock. Pierre Miller was able to instill some excitement into the near capacity crowd with a couple of 3's, but a very vocal contingent of Liberty fans would get their way with a 3 point Liberty lead at the half after some steady back and forth action.
I soon found out why the place was as packed as it was other than just being senior night. There was a large dance group performing at halftime and once the show was over about 30-40% of the fans left and were never to be seen the rest of the game. I'm sure plenty were parents of the numerous kids that were performing, but it sapped some of the atmosphere for the rest of the game.
While it was senior night for PC, the 2nd half was all about Liberty's senior leader Jesse Sanders. Sanders is the defending Player of the Year in the Big South and is a threat for a triple double every night. While he didn't reach that feat on the night, he was able to control the game with 10 assists to go along with his 19 points. Several of his assists went to Burrus along with a few going to his brother John Caleb. Anytime PC looked like they were going to make a comeback one of the Sanders brothers would hit a big shot to stop any momentum.
Liberty would end up with a solid 13-point win over the Blue Hose. I was disappointed because I was hoping the Presbyterian seniors could go out on a better note in front of the crowd that supported them the past five years. We hear a lot about how selfish some players can be, and all of the bad seeds, but there are some great student athletes out there. The PC 3 are a prime example of how to do things the right way. They should be looked up to by their peers and I'm glad I got to see their final home game.
LIBERTY 77, at PRESBYTERIAN 64 02/11/2012
LIBERTY 11-16 (6-9) -- J. Sanders 8-11 3-4 19; D. Minaya 3-6 4-4 11; T. Speaks 3-4 5-6 11; A. Burrus 5-9 3-3 13; J. Sanders 4-8 3-4 13; T. Gielo 1-4 0-0 2; J. Vander Pol 1-3 0-0 2; A. Smith 2-2 0-1 4; K. Assinesi 1-1 0-0 2; W. Aikens 0-1 0-0 0; E. Layer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-49 18-22 77. PRESBYTERIAN 11-14 (5-10) -- K. Mutakabbir 3-9 1-2 8; A. Coleman 8-11 2-2 19; J. Johnson 2-4 0-0 6; J. Reynolds 2-2 0-1 4; P. Miller 5-10 2-4 15; E. Washington 2-6 2-2 6; R. McTavish 0-1 0-0 0; J. Clyburn 1-1 0-0 2; W. Truss 2-2 0-0 4; T. Deihl 0-0 0-0 0; R. McCray 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-46 7-11 64.
Three-point goals: LIB 3-9 (D. Minaya 1-1; J. Sanders 0-1; J. Caleb Sanders 2-4; T. Gielo 0-2; W. Aikens 0-1), PRES 7-20 (A. Coleman 1-1; J. Johnson 2-4; P. Miller 3-8; K. Mutakabbir 1-3; R. McTavish 0-1; E. Washington 0-3); Rebounds: LIB 27 (J. Sanders 6), PRES 14 (A. Coleman 4); Assists: LIB 12 (J. Sanders 10), PRES 11 (J. Johnson 3); Total Fouls -- LIB 12, PRES 15; Fouled Out: LIB-None; PRES-K. Mutakabbir.