After seeing two exciting games on Saturday afternoon, featuring two of our local teams, The Citadel and Georgia Southern beckoned for me. CofC beat conference leader Davidson, while High Point nearly came back from a 13-point deficit in the last 5 minutes and had two chances to win the game but lost to Charleston Southern.
After the CSU game ended, me, a couple of cameramen (who covered the CSU game, only two of our stations), and a few others went to The Citadel.
I drove myself down Highway 78 over to I-26, and when the drive started, the signal of WQNT, the 1000 watter carrying the Citadel games, was weak. I had to put up with it, but the closer I got to McAlister Field House, the better the signal got. A surprising development was occurring in the gym, as The Citadel was leading by as much as 10 over the Eagles, the second-place team in the South Division of the SoCon.
It was a very well-played first half, one that left a lot of Georgia Southern fans hanging their heads. The Dogs led by six at halftime, and that was when I walked into McAlister. It had gotten much, much cooler from when I left my house to go to the Homecoming proceedings at CofC. It was probably 20 degrees cooler, and I dressed for a warmer temperature. I bought my ticket, only $10, and then walked into the arena.
A surprisingly large crowd was waiting for concessions. Several local groups were holding nights. Merrill Lynch was holding a get-together, and it was Lowcountry shag night.
THIS IS SOMETHING YOU ONLY SEE IN THE CAROLINAS. SHAG DANCING AT HALFTIME. I ALMOST WANTED TO GET ON THE COURT TO DANCE.
There were also a lot of Georgia Southern fans. Compared to the last game I went to, the Samford game, where there may have been 75 people on the general admission side, Georgia Southern alone brought about 300-400 people, many who took the short two hour or so drive from Statesboro, and others who live here in the area. They even had a guy to rile up the fans.
A crowd of 2,500 or so showed up at McAlister, compared to about 1,000 at the Samford game. They watched a very exciting basketball game. It was nip and tuck throughout the second half. Georgia Southern's biggest lead was eight, 69-61, with five minutes to go. The Dogs fought very hard, going on an 8-0 run. Bo Holston's huge dunk tied the score at 69-69 with just 14 seconds left. Willie Powers had a chance to win it, but his three was off the mark.
It was tied at 69 going into overtime, the second time this year that these two teams went into OT. Back in Statesboro, the Dogs and the Eagles went to two overtimes before The Citadel finally submitted.
The Dogs hoped that there wouldn't be a finish like the one on Jan. 14 against UNCG. The Dogs seemed to have that one won twice in the final second, but Trevis Simpson's alley-oop dunk gave the Spartans a crazy win. If you see UNCG v. Citadel ending, you can hear Danny Reed's description of the call.
This one was just as tight. The Citadel took a three point lead, 72-69 with three minutes left in OT, but Willie Powers had a layup and a jumper to give the Eagles a 73-72 lead going into the final 15 seconds. The Dogs had a big chance. Make a two, and pull off a big upset.
It turned out to be one of the toughest losses of the season for the Bulldogs, and there have been many for this very young team. They have only had four wins on the season, with two of them coming against non-D1 competition. Next up for them is Western Carolina, while Georgia Southern is right in the thick of things not only for a SoCon bye, but the South Division title, hosting UNCG on Saturday.
GEORGIA SOUTHERN 73, at THE CITADEL 72 02/11/2012
GEORGIA SOUTHERN 13-12 (11-4) -- J. Harris 3-7 5-6 12; B. Drayton III 6-9 0-0 13; J. Hewitt 3-9 2-2 9; W. Powers III 6-13 1-1 13; E. Ferguson 7-12 0-0 14; C. Baskerville 4-7 2-2 10; M. Baynham 1-5 1-4 3; T. Brown 3-3 0-0 6; J. Pernell 1-1 0-0 3; T. Bussey 0-4 0-0 0; K. Dunnican 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 32-65 6-9 73. THE CITADEL 4-21 (1-13) -- B. Holston 2-6 0-0 4; J. Robertson 3-9 3-4 9; M. Harris III 4-8 3-4 11; M. Groselle 4-6 2-3 10; A. Moore 6-16 10-10 24; C. Bray 3-6 1-2 7; L. Miller 1-2 0-0 2; D. Wright 1-2 3-3 5; C. Morabbi 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 22-26 72.
Three-point goals: GS 3-14 (W. Powers 0-3; B. Drayton 1-2; E. Ferguson 0-2; J. Hewitt 1-4; T. Bussey 0-2; J. Pernell 1-1), CITA 2-12 (C. Morabbi 0-2; B. Holston 0-1; D. Wright 0-1; C. Bray 0-1; M. Harris III 0-2; L. Miller 0-1; A. Moore 2-4); Rebounds: GS 30 (J. Hewitt 9), CITA 38 (J. Robertson 10); Assists: GS 11 (W. Powers 6), CITA 11 (M. Harris III 4); Total Fouls -- GS 21, CITA 13; Fouled Out: GS-None; CITA-M. Groselle.