Game #9-198: Richmond Spiders vs. George Mason PatriotsDecember 22, 2012 3:00 pm
One of the cool things about living in Virginia is the number of quality and unique college basketball programs. You have schools ranging from the ACC all the way down to one of the best programs in DIII hoops (Virginia Wesleyan). As a Division I fan its upsetting that some of the best in the state stray away from playing each other. But that all changed this year with the Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic.
Governor Bill McDonnell came up with an idea, or at least he says he did, to come up with a one day event at the Richmond Coliseum to get some of the states best to play against each other. The inaugural event would have Richmond taking on George Mason in the early game and Virginia playing Old Dominion in the late game. Next year's early game isn't as enticing as this year's as James Madison and Hampton get together, but the late game will likely sell out the 12,000 seat coliseum with VCU and Virginia Tech rekindling an old Metro Conference rivalry.
We ventured down to the Coliseum a little early to head to a sports bar across the street from the stadium. For some reason when I arrived at the parking deck I usually park in it was closed, and it was only two hours from game time. Ahhhh.... disorganization. The sports bar turned out to be a pretty cool atmosphere with fans from four different teams interacting. I've been in the same bar several times during the CAA tourney, but it was usually drowning in VCU fans. The dynamics of everyone in the bar were kind of interesting. With ODU bolting for Conference USA and not being eligible for the CAA tournament, there wasn't that much vitriol between the Monarch fans and the Mason fans which you would usually see. Richmond was the most underrepresented group and UVA fans just had an air of cockiness around them (imagine that).
If you've heard of the Richmond Coliseum, it's probably for all the wrong reasons. The forty plus year old, doo-doo brown monstrosity used to be up to snuff to host the NCAA tournament in the past, but father time has played its cruel role. Last time the NCAA tournament was in town, I was in fifth grade and Darvin Ham broke a backboard at the Coliseum. Over the years, I've been to plenty of games at the Coliseum, most of which were the CAA tournament. But the venue has also hosted UVA-Virginia Tech before they were in the same conference, the MEAC tournament, and the Big 10 Challenge. The Big 10 Challenge may be the most infamous event at the Coliseum when UVA took on Michigan State about ten years ago. The city was abuzz and there was a solid atmosphere. The only problem was the players kept slipping and the game was cancelled about five minutes into the second half. Why? Well, apparently the powers that be at the Coliseum forgot to melt the ice of the minor league hockey team and the condensation creeped up through the court.
I really didn't know what to expect from a crowd standpoint for these games. Richmond has trouble getting a good crowd at their home arena and Mason always traveled pretty well to the CAA tourney, but this was a one day event on a holiday weekend. My thoughts seemed to ring true and it seemed that Mason fans outnumbered the home town Spiders. It was the first time Richmond played in the Coliseum since they left the CAA in 2001. Amazingly enough, this was the first time these two schools have met 2001 also. It's incredible that over a ten year span these two programs haven't bumped heads.
Despite being outnumbered, UofR had two dudes dressed up as Spider Man which is always a plus in my book.
With Old Dominion struggling mightily this year, the first game was thought to be the better one. Richmond and Mason were pretty evenly matched, but I think many would have given the Spiders the edge. It looked like Richmond was going to run away with the game up 41-32 at halftime, as the Spiders hit eight of their first ten three pointers. The second half was one of runs though; Mason opened the half on a 11-3 run. The Spiders responded with a 15-4 run of their own. Then Mason went on a 9-0 run and the game turned into one of those two minute situations that seem to last about an hour.
Me and my buddy moved towards the beer garden close to center court to watch the end of the game. We thought it would be a situation where Richmond would slowly pull away and we could head into the depths of the Coliseum. George Mason just wouldn't let that happen as they kept on fighting. The cool thing was that in the midst of this comeback, we had moved from the Richmond section to the Mason section and as non-partisan fans its always more fun to be where the action is. Eventually, Paul Hewitt's squad tied the game at 64-64. My first reaction was, "lets go sit back down for overtime" but Mason had other plans.
Mason guard Sherrod Wright had played well all night and played almost all night with 36 minutes on the floor. His finest minute or second rather came at the buzzer as he nailed a fadeaway three-pointer with contact as time expired. What a great way to start something that will hopefully become a great event over the years.
GEORGE MASON 67, RICHMOND 64
RICHMOND 9-4 (0-0) -- D. Williams 4-7 4-7 14; D. Brothers 7-13 1-2 20; C. Lindsay 2-7 1-2 6; G. Robbins 2-3 2-2 7; A. Nelson-Ododa 1-3 2-3 4; W. Sparrow 2-2 1-2 5; K. Anthony 1-6 2-4 4; D. Taylor 0-2 2-2 2; T. Allen 1-1 0-0 2; T. Davis 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 20-44 15-26 64.
GEORGE MASON 7-4 (0-0) -- S. Wright 8-11 2-2 22; C. Edwards 5-9 1-2 13; J. Williams 2-4 2-3 6; J. Arledge 3-8 1-2 7; E. Copes 0-1 0-0 0; M. Gujanicic 1-5 1-2 3; A. Okoloji 3-4 0-0 6; B. Allen 1-4 0-2 2; V. Vaughns 1-2 0-0 3; P. Holloway 2-4 0-0 5; V. Gray 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-52 7-13 67.
Three-point goals: RICH 9-19 (D. Brothers 5-7; G. Robbins 1-1; C. Lindsay 1-3; D. Williams 2-5; K. Anthony 0-2; D. Taylor 0-1), GMU 8-13 (V. Vaughns 1-2; S. Wright 4-5; C. Edwards 2-3; P. Holloway 1-3); Rebounds: RICH 25 (D. Williams 7), GMU 29 (J. Arledge 8); Assists: RICH 13 (D. Brothers 3), GMU 14 (S. Wright 3); Total Fouls -- RICH 15, GMU 20; Fouled Out: RICH-None; GMU-None.