"You know, I could always go down and get post-game sound from SIUE and SLU."
Game #9-237: SIU Edwardsville Cougars at Saint Louis BillikensDecember 28, 2012 8:00 pm
I had thrown it out there just as a suggestion, an effort to stave off boredom or keep myself from a worse fate. With a light snow continuing to fall around St. Louis, it was only a matter of time before those in charge of determining how my evening at work would go decided my time would be better spent getting video of that snow falling.
Fortunately, they decided I would indeed cover the game between the two Division I basketball teams in our immediate metropolitan area instead, and I climbed into a two-ton live van and clunked it down to Chaifetz Arena. I walked in and shook off a few flakes as Guy Phillips announced the starting lineups.
I had this game circled on my mental calendar for some time, with my two closest DII teams playing a game for the first time in 30 years. But with a work schedule which has me working evenings on Fridays, (...and Saturdays... and Sundays) I knew seeing this game in person would require a significant number of breaks to go my way. Add the forecast of snow and I figured those breaks would never happen. I assumed I would spend this night shivering in a parking lot or on a highway overpass; our usual winter-weather haunts.
Instead, I was nestled warmly in front of the Saint Louis pep band. They were serenading Kwamain Mitchell, returning to the floor tonight after breaking a bone in his foot in the preseason, with their version of the old soccer song ¡Olé Olé Olé!, substituting KWA-MAIN for ¡Olé!
Because the game was being televised locally, I didn't need to shoot the game itself. My only mission was to get interviews afterward. This granted me the rare and beautiful opportunity, the dream of many but the realization of so few.
I was being paid to just watch college basketball.
Saint Louis was playing the sixth of a very un-mid-major nine-game home stand, and with the whole gang back together, they quickly jumped out to a lead. The Cougars from SIU-Edwardsville, making the 30-minute drive into midtown St. Louis, quickly found their legs and hung within a couple scores of the Billikens for most of the first half. Kris Davis nailed a three to bring the Cougars within two at 16-14, and just a slight unease filled Chaifetz. It did not last long.
Saint Louis went on a 20-3 run to close out the first half, capped by a superhoop from Cody Ellis with two seconds left. SIUE went seven minutes without scoring, and managed only 17 points for the entire half.
The woes continued for SIUE in the second half, with SLU's always-pressing defense forcing five turnovers and three missed shots in their first eight possessions. Mark Yelovich, playing hard on a bad ankle, finally scored the first Cougar field goal of the second half with 13:48 left. By the time SIUE finally strung together some quality possessions, the Billiken lead was well into the 20s and the game coasted to an end with an easy, wire-to-wire. Saint Louis win.
The postgame went smoothly too. I had the only TV camera there, and I feel like I might have been the only one there up until this point in the season because the media relations person had to remind SLU coach Jim Crews and the players to actually speak into the microphone so I, or my camera rather, could hear them. Everyone talked about how great it was to play a close rival like this. SIUE coach Lennox Forrester even said this series can be a "win-win, even though we lost."
I walked out of Chaifetz Arena to discover even more snow had fallen, close to two inches total on the ground. It was somewhat unexpected, a lot like my chance to see this game had been. I climbed back into the truck and drove a couple blocks toward downtown, found a nice spot, and set up the truck to send back a picture of the snowy scene near Union Station. My bosses were appreciative. I figured I owed them one.
at SAINT LOUIS 68, SIU EDWARDSVILLE 41
SIU EDWARDSVILLE 4-6 (0-0) -- J. Jones 6-16 1-2 15; K. Davis 3-8 4-6 12; D. Shaffer 2-4 0-0 4; M. Messer 1-5 1-2 3; R. Reed 0-1 0-0 0; T. Johnson 1-6 0-0 3; M. Yelovich 2-7 0-0 4; R. Lester 0-0 0-0 0; Z. Schneider 0-0 0-0 0; K. Heck 0-0 0-0 0; M. Birts 0-0 0-0 0; C. Joy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-47 6-10 41.
SAINT LOUIS 9-3 (0-0) -- M. McCall Jr. 7-12 0-0 16; D. Evans 5-11 4-6 14; R. Loe 2-4 0-0 4; C. Remekun 3-4 0-2 6; J. Jett 2-5 1-2 5; J. Barnett 2-4 0-0 6; C. Ellis 3-6 1-1 8; G. Glaze 2-3 0-0 4; S. Duff 0-0 1-2 1; J. LePak 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-49 7-13 64.
Three-point goals: SIUE 5-16 (M. Yelovich 0-2; T. Johnson 1-3; J. Jones 2-6; M. Messer 0-1; K. Davis 2-4), SLU 5-14 (K. Mitchell 0-3; C. Ellis 1-2; J. Barnett 2-4; D. Evans 0-1; R. Loe 0-1; M. McCall 2-6); Rebounds: SIUE 24 (M. Messer 7), SLU 31 (C. Remekun 10); Assists: SIUE 8 (K. Davis 3), SLU 11 (K. Mitchell 5); Total Fouls -- SIUE 14, SLU 12; Fouled Out: SIUE-None; SLU-None.