Game #9-318: Longwood Lancers at Liberty FlamesJanuary 22, 2013 7:00 pm
I ventured out Tuesday on a familiar trip, but a trip I had not taken in quite some time. Liberty University and Longwood University have a basketball rivalry dating back to the late '70s but the two schools, which are 50 miles apart, had not clashed in nearly five years. In 2008, Liberty decided to abruptly end an annual home-and-home series that was evenly matched, full of emotion, and well attended.
Liberty's and Longwood's basketball heritage and history have always seemed to be intertwined. Both schools started their programs in the 1970s and due to proximity they started playing each other fairly often. Both grew to national prominence for their respective levels in the early '80s with Longwood going to the DIII Final Four in 1980 and Liberty being ranked in the Top 5 on the NAIA level. In the mid-'80s both schools joined the Mason-Dixon Conference and competed with each other on the Division II level. Liberty joined the Big South Conference in 1991 and the Route 460 rivalry was lost for 17 years.
Despite Liberty having nearly every advantage, the all-time series was in Longwood's hands 18-7. Oddly enough, Liberty has never won in Longwood's home court of Willett Hall, which opened in 1981. On the Division I level both schools are even with three wins a piece (all on home floors). There has always been a hint of a rivalry on the DI level but it probably came more from Longwood fans hungry for a rival, rather than Liberty fans who scoff at their neighbor down the road.
The "rivalry" means a little more to me because my sister went to Liberty, so there is always been that extra layer of a sibling rivalry thrown in the mix. When I was in college, Liberty was one of the few road games in driving distance so we would always load up the cars (and ourselves) and head up to Lynchburg. I know make the voyage with my dad and we may use it more as an excuse to hit the road and visit my sister, who still lives not far from campus. My sister has probably been to more Longwood games than Liberty, but sitting with opposing fans always makes it more fun (especially when they are family).
On the court, Longwood and Liberty are two very much struggling programs with two coaches on the hot seat. Put both squads together and they have three Division I wins this year. Longwood was in the midst of a nine-game losing streak after an impressive showing at UNC Asheville; Liberty was licking their wounds from a loss to lowly Presbyterian. This game presented an opportunity for one of these teams to try to springboard just a little hope in their season.
I never really like the atmosphere at Liberty; it's as sterile as it gets. The main reason is the cavernous 7,000+ seat arena the Flames play in, the Vines Center aka The Death Star. There is simply no atmosphere because their are more open seats than occupied ones. I thought it was cool as a student organization I started when I was at Longwood, Lancer Lunatics, brought buses of Longwood students and sold about 100 tickets. The small Longwood student section was much louder than the ten or fifteen fans who stood behind the Flames bench. Liberty was probably thankful that their band could drown out the Lunatics during timeouts.
The first half was pretty tightly contested in the first half until Liberty went on a late run and stretched a lead into double-digits. Longwood was missing starting point guard Nik Brown for the second straight game but managed to cut the deficit to six at the half. A very unexciting, low scoring first half....
At halftime we were treated to a pizza eating contest at mid-court. It was at this instance where my sister decided to yell out, "GLUTTONY IS A SIN." Usually at Liberty you get either the people that are OK making fun of themselves or people that are super defensive (which I guess is the case everywhere actually). Thankfully for my sister it was more of the first breed as she got some chuckles from press row.
I'm not even sure what happened in the second half of this one, I think I blacked out from misery and embarrassment. One minute it was a slim margin at the half and I was full of hope and the next minute the game was over and Longwood got rocked 74-47. I remember asking my dad on the car ride back "what happened?" I was just confused to say the least.
This picture of a dejected bench is the image that is burned in my mind from this game:
Despite the abysmal performance on the court ,the Longwood students still decided to have some fun and bring out the patented Liberty cheer. "PAST YOUR CURFEW! clap clap clap clap clap PAST YOUR CURFEW!"... poking at Liberty's strict religious rules on campus. No matter the occasion, it's a cheer that seems to come out every time these two schools meet.
Leaving the arena my dad and sister poked a little fun at me, which was completely justified. I decided to visit the Death Star restroom before heading home when I noticed what Liberty's post game anthem was. Now usually I wouldn't notice a thing like this, after a win you usually hear a random rap song or "CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES COME ON!", but not at Liberty.... instead all I could hear was "DO THE HUSTLE!" "Do the hustle?", I thought, I couldn't remember the last time I had even heard this song, much less at a basketball game. But at a campus where dancing was banned for years perhaps the Hustle is progressive? If you hear the Hustle at any other TMM9 locations then please let me know.
Despite the resounding loss, I'm sure Longwood will win at home because that's just the way this rivalry seems to work out every year...
at LIBERTY 74, LONGWOOD 47
LONGWOOD 3-17 (0-6) -- L. Woodhouse 2-4 2-2 7; M. Kessens 3-15 1-3 7; T. Carey 5-11 0-0 10; K. Ziegler 2-6 8-8 12; J. Dublin 3-8 0-0 6; D. Robinson 1-3 0-0 2; J. Havenstein 0-1 0-0 0; M. Parker 1-4 0-0 3; S. Shockley 0-2 0-0 0; K. Staine 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-55 11-13 47.
LIBERTY 6-14 (2-4) -- D. Marshall 3-4 0-0 7; T. Speaks 4-6 2-2 10; C. Roberts 4-7 2-5 12; J. Coronado 0-2 0-0 0; J. Sanders 8-17 2-2 20; T. Gielo 2-6 0-0 4; J. Vander Pol 1-2 0-2 2; A. Smith 2-3 2-3 6; S. Ogukwe 1-1 0-0 2; L. Taylor 0-1 2-2 2; C. Donley 3-4 1-1 9. Totals 28-53 11-17 74.
Three-point goals: LONG 2-15 (S. Shockley 0-2; T. Carey 0-2; M. Parker 1-4; M. Kessens 0-3; K. Staine 0-1; L. Woodhouse 1-3), LIB 7-16 (J. Caleb Sanders 2-6; T. Gielo 0-1; C. Donley 2-3; D. Marshall 1-1; C. Roberts 2-4; L. Taylor 0-1); Rebounds: LONG 26 (M. Kessens 6), LIB 32 (J. Caleb Sanders 5); Assists: LONG 9 (T. Carey 2), LIB 12 (J. Caleb Sanders 4); Total Fouls -- LONG 16, LIB 18; Fouled Out: LONG-T. Carey; LIB-None.