Saturday really spoke a lot about Coastal Carolina and what the true rooting interests are for the school. The Chanticleer basketball team is coming off of two 28-win seasons, and despite not being as good as those teams, this season's team is still solid with Red Line Upsets over Clemson and LSU. Saturday would be the final home game of the regular season and also would most likely be the last in the history of Kimbel Arena. It was also Senior Day where Jon Pack, Chris Gradnigo, Dexter Moore, Jordan Griffin and Willie Kirkland were all being honored.
With all of this going on you'd think that CCU would have no problem getting students to the arena, but that was not the case. Only about 30 or 40 students were at the game against Tennessee Tech. They were even selling tickets in the student section which they normally only do during holiday breaks. Some may think the noon start time was the culprit, but the main reason was the Coastal Carolina baseball team was hosting ACC foe Virginia.
Now I know that people were excited to see a team from the ACC, but it's not as if the baseball team never attracts big name opponents. This year alone in addition to hosting Virginia they have Boston College, NC State, Iowa, Virginia Tech, Pitt, Illinois, Ohio St, Michigan, and UConn all coming to town. There is no shortage of marquee matchups to see since CCU hosts 5 invitationals. The fact that the basketball game was at noon and the baseball game was at 2pm just emphasized the fact that basketball season is over in the minds of many at CCU.
That's not to say Kimbel Arena was completely empty; the season ticket holders still came to root on their team for the final time this year. I have heard students that criticize the season ticket holders about how old they may be and how they bring nothing to the atmosphere, but at least they show up for every game and are the true diehard fans of CCU basketball.
Tennesse Tech would be the opponent for the Chanticleers in the Bracketbusters matchup. I was a bit disappointed in the selection of the Golden Eagles since I was hoping that CCU could get an in-state team like Wofford or nearby UNC-Wilmington. Those teams would have provided the opportunity for a much shorter road trip in the years to come whenever the Chants were to return the game. It was a good consolation though that I'd be seeing Kevin Murphy, who dropped 50 earlier in the season.
Knowing about Murphy was the only knowledge I had for Tennessee Tech so I had no clue as to how competitive the game would be. When I saw TT had only beaten something called Wilberforce by one earlier in the season, my hopes were a bit wary on a decent game. That and the fact that CCU looked like they were going to blow out Tech when they stormed out to a 21 to 6 lead. The Golden Eagles had only made one field goal in the first 10 minutes and Murphy had yet to score.
It looked like it would be a successful Senior Day for the Chants, but Tech finally started making shots and ended up dominating the remainder of the half. Murphy started to get hot and had nine straight points for the Golden Eagles. A Zac Swansey 3 ended up tying the game going into halftime as the only two Tennessee Tech fans that seemed to be there were going crazy.
Not many of the CCU fans were expecting that big run by the Golden Eagles, so many thought the Chants would bounce right back coming out of halftime. While CCU was able to end their eight-minute field goal drought quickly, Tech was still firing on all cylinders. Five consecutive 3-pointers had TT up 10 in a hurry and later had the lead up to 59-43 after a Terrell Barnes put back.
Coastal did have some life left in them as Jon Pack didn't want to fall so easily on Senior Day. Despite his skillset limitations, the Coastal center had what was probably his best game as a Chanticleer with a career high tying 15 and 9 boards. He and the rest of the Chants cut the lead down to eight, but Jud Dillard took over and went on a personal seven-point spurt. Tennessee Tech sucked the life out of the already subdued Kimbel Arena and while CCU was able to get close in the final few minutes, the Golden Eagles were too far ahead and got the Bracketbuster victory.
The fact that Coastal had lost was merely an afterthought for the majority of the campus. That fact was driven home as I was leaving the arena and drove past the CCU baseball stadium. There was a party atmosphere surrounding the whole area, as trucks were parked along the outfield wall with people peeking over the fence to catch the game against Virginia. If only they had started their day a couple hundred feet over at Kimbel Arena, their "other" team could have gone out on a better note.
TENNESSEE TECH 77, at COASTAL CAROLINA 71 02/18/2012
TENNESSEE TECH 18-11 (9-6) -- K. Murphy 7-16 4-4 21; Z. Swansey 4-8 1-4 13; T. Barnes 1-1 3-4 5; J. Dillard 7-13 6-8 22; Z. Bailey 1-2 4-6 7; L. McMorrow 0-1 3-4 3; B. Inameti 1-1 1-2 3; J. McKay 1-1 1-2 3; D. Ogbe 0-0 0-0 0; C. Dunn 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-44 23-34 77. COASTAL CAROLINA 18-9 (11-5) -- K. Greenwood 3-12 4-4 11; J. Pack 6-9 3-8 15; A. Raffa 5-11 1-2 12; C. Gradnigo 4-12 2-2 12; S. McLaurin 6-7 0-0 12; B. Addey 0-1 0-0 0; W. Gillis 2-4 0-0 4; J. Griffin 0-2 0-0 0; D. Moore 2-3 0-0 5; C. Ashford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-61 10-16 71.
Three-point goals: TNT 10-18 (Z. Swansey 4-6; Z. Bailey 1-2; K. Murphy 3-5; J. Dillard 2-4; C. Dunn 0-1), CCU 5-16 (C. Gradnigo 2-6; A. Raffa 1-3; D. Moore 1-2; J. Griffin 0-2; K. Greenwood 1-2; W. Gillis 0-1); Rebounds: TNT 32 (K. Murphy 9), CCU 30 (J. Pack 9); Assists: TNT 10 (Z. Swansey 4), CCU 15 (K. Greenwood 8); Total Fouls -- TNT 22, CCU 23; Fouled Out: TNT-None; CCU-None.