This Saturday was a very exciting day to be a college basketball fan in the Lowcountry, as I said in the first recap. I got to pick up Clyde the Cougar during the Davidson/Charleston game, and I was one of the leaders of the Maroon Mayhem student section for the College of Charleston. It was also a great game. The College beat the conference leaders by eight points, and got a huge burst of momentum.
HOWEVER, I ALWAYS ENJOY WATCHING OTHER GAMES. I LIVE LESS THAN A MILE FROM MY LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL, AND I HAVE BEEN TO NUMEROUS CITADEL GAMES. BUT I HAD NEVER BEEN TO CHARLESTON SOUTHERN.
This game that I went to today pitted fellow Mid-Majority member Ian McCormick's alma mater, High Point, versus CSU. I had to arrive late to this game, because the Davidson/CofC game ended later than normal for a 3 p.m. game, at about 5:15 p.m. I had to get out of the parking garage near the arena, then negotiate the streets of downtown Charleston and find a way to get to Interstate 26.
I listened to CofC's postgame on 910 AM with Jeff McCarragher, then flipped to co-owned 106.3 FM to listen to Kevin O'Rourke and John Peters, a youth leader at a local church, give their description of the CSU game. I had to drive about 25 minutes from CofC to get to Charleston Southern, meaning I missed much of the first half of that game.
However, I got to the arena at around the four- or five-minute mark of the first half. I drove up to Buccaneer Field House, and was stunned by how small the gym was. Knowing that this was the smallest gym in Division I basketball, I knew that this would be a tiny place. But I didn't know how small it was going to be.
There are only 881 seats in the arena, and almost all of them were filled. The high school I graduated from (James Island), which has been hanging between 3A/4A, can fill more than that even with one half of the lower stands not lowered. With those seats, it seats 600 more than CSU's gym. At least a dozen high schools in the Charleston area (all the 4A schools plus at least Berkeley and North Charleston) have gyms that are as big as or bigger than Charleston Southern.
You could tell the difference between the three local schools in logistics, too. While CofC charged $20 for non-students for the Davidson game, and The Citadel $10 general admission, you could get into the CSU game for just $5. A seat on the season ticket side only costs $7.
The fan groups were different, too. While CofC has lots of season ticket holders and rich donors who take up most of the seats in the lower level, most of CSU's fan base consisted of people from the Summerville, North Charleston and Goose Creek area who wanted to see a good basketball game.
The game was a very exciting one. After High Point had gotten off to an early lead, CSU had just taken the lead by one point when I walked in. I was looking for a seat when I found one on the second row on the general admission, behind a family who had gotten tickets for that night's game.
High Point soon stretched out the lead to six points, but Charleston Southern cut the deficit to only two points at halftime, 41-39. AT HALFTIME, I MET WITH MR. MCCORMICK. HE IS A VERY NICE FELLOW, AND I SAW HIM WITH HIS MOUNDS OF SHEETS THAT HE USES TO TRACK GAMES. WE TALKED ABOUT THE GAME I HAD BEEN TO EARLIER TODAY, AND HE WAS WORRIED ABOUT HIGH POINT'S DEFENSE.
The youth game that I saw at halftime was between a team from North Charleston and a team from Goose Creek. As Ian said during his recap, it was one of the better youth games I had seen. The players were given pats on the back after the game, and the student sections on each side roared their approval.
On one side were the band and a few students, and on the other side was a larger student section. Concessions, compared to the arenas at CofC and The Citadel, were spartan. They were down to nachos as one of the last food items, as they were out of pizza. I munched on that at halftime.
I moved down closer to the court in the second half, and the game stayed nip and tuck until about the seven minute mark when CSU looked to have put the game away. I moved to a first row seat that wasn't taken, and enjoyed the rest of the game from that spot.
The seats on the first row at Charleston Southern are literally closer than any other seat in college basketball. You are just a couple of feet from being on the court, and you can feel the sweat on the players, literally. One time, in the final five minutes, the ball went out of bounds, and it went directly to my seat. I bounced the ball, then gave it back to the ref.
Now, I could say that I dribbled the ball on a college basketball court during a game. This is how close I was:
The game was a very exciting one at the end. CSU built a 13-point lead, but the lead was almost entirely blown. With a barrage of threes, High Point cut the deficit to just one point with about 30 seconds to go It was a very exciting finish. Being on the court meant that you felt it even closer than most people did.
Toward the end of the game, when a High Point Player fouled CSU's Mathiang Muo, I was so close on the court that I got a bit of Muo's sweat because he reached over after the foul. CSU made free throws to give them a three-point lead, but it was still a very exciting finish.
High Point tried a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it missed, and Charleston Southern won by three. It was a very good experience, and something that I enjoyed going out to CSU. Next up, The Citadel.
at CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 70, HIGH POINT 67 02/11/2012
HIGH POINT 10-16 (6-10) -- N. Barbour 6-18 3-3 21; B. Mikulic 3-5 0-0 7; D. Wallace 3-7 0-0 7; S. Shine 5-12 4-7 18; C. Law 3-4 1-2 7; T. Elliott 0-0 0-0 0; X. Martin 1-5 0-0 2; J. Cheek 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 23-55 8-12 67. CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 15-10 (9-6) -- S. Nimley 3-11 0-0 8; K. Martin 5-8 1-2 11; A. Harper 5-16 1-4 14; P. Gombwer 1-4 2-2 4; M. Muo 8-12 2-2 26; J. Sexton 2-5 2-2 7; C. Bowen 0-0 0-0 0; C. Grier 0-3 0-0 0; S. Strickland 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 24-62 8-12 70.
Three-point goals: HP 13-33 (N. Barbour 6-14; J. Cheek 1-3; X. Martin 0-1; S. Shine 4-8; D. Wallace 1-5; B. Mikulic 1-2), CHSO 14-39 (J. Sexton 1-3; M. Muo 8-11; C. Grier 0-3; S. Strickland 0-2; A. Harper 3-11; S. Nimley 2-9); Rebounds: HP 33 (B. Mikulic 7), CHSO 37 (K. Martin 13); Assists: HP 10 (S. Shine 4), CHSO 14 (A. Harper 5); Total Fouls -- HP 15, CHSO 11; Fouled Out: HP-None; CHSO-None.