Game #9-389: North Carolina-Greensboro Spartans at Charleston CougarsFebruary 2, 2013 7:00 pm
Carolina First Center
Homecoming has been a part of sports for over a century. Homecoming began in 1909 at Baylor University
in Waco, Texas, who had the first homecoming mixed with a football game. Homecoming is a tradition at thousands of colleges and high schools around the world. It is usually filled with pageantry, with parades, floats, alumni coming back after long absences, and lots of color.
In our area at the high school level, homecoming is usually the most important day on the calendar besides graduation. Almost every high school in the state of South Carolina bases their homecoming around a football game. High school football is a very popular sport around these parts, but homecoming is often the most important game of the season.
Everyone can unite around a celebration which involves an entire school. Pep rallies help build excitement up for the game on Friday night. Spirit competitions occur for the entire week. In most schools people dress out in wacky colors, pajamas, or several other combinations. Most schools have a homecoming king and queen; the winners become royalty around the school.
Attendance grows for these games. My school in particular, a school of about 1,400 students that has not had a winning season in over a decade, averages around 2,500 per game. For the homecoming game though, there is usually at least 4,000 in attendance, sometimes 5,000 or more.
Even at the better schools in our area, attendance rises; bigger schools in our area frequently can draw crowds rivaling many decent-sized FCS schools for these games.
At the College of Charleston though, homecoming is different. With no football team, basketball is the focus. CofC simply picks a weekend game during the middle of the season and schedules it as their homecoming game. It is still important, but there is not as much of looking forward for the students like it is at the high school level.
On homecoming weekend, CofC brought in Travis Porter, a well-known rapper, to do a concert at the Music Farm in downtown Charleston. The concert had a very good crowd, about 1,000. Homecoming has become an entire weekend celebration. A tailgate occurs before the game at the School of Business. There are events going all day around CofC's campus.
Homecoming, even though it is not as big of a deal as it is at a school like South Carolina or Clemson, where everything revolves around the football game and there's parades and pep rallies, is still a big deal.
The student section opened at 6pm, an hour before game time. There was a line getting in. What was the kicker? Free stuff. Free Chick-fil-A sandwiches; free t-shirts; free koozies. College students always get excited for free stuff. Because of this, about half of the student section was filled nearly an hour before tip-off.
This game was between the College, on a 3-game winning streak at the time, and UNCG, who had lost to Elon on Thursday night in a big rivalry game at Greensboro Coliseum. This game was one which looked to be a mismatch for CofC, as they were a double-digit favorite. However, last season, the Cougars lost twice to the Spartans. The first game at TD Arena was the start of a resurgence for UNCG, and was the first win for current Spartans coach Wes Miller. Anthony Stitt injured his hand in this game, causing him to miss much of the rest of the season.
This game was different from the games last year against Greensboro though. With Coach Doug Wojcik, CofC plays a different style. This game though, was different. CofC got off to a quick start. At the halfway point of the first half, CofC led 22-9. The great start by the College of Charleston was offset by UNCG's poor shooting, making this game feel more lopsided than it was.
Wes Miller raised a ruckus several times during the action; later in the game, he got a technical foul. The students behind their basket did not like him with his antics in the coaching box.
UNCG had nine more fouls than CofC during the game, 24 to 15. It was a 13 point lead for the Cougars at halftime, 37-24.
Halftime at homecoming is one of the most important parts of the game. The homecoming court was introduced, and the homecoming queen and king were announced.
This is the homecoming court, from CofC's Student Life page.
The winner of Homecoming was Special Populations. They won the Spirit Cup Challenge, Homecoming King (Nick Biedron), Homecoming Queen (Marita Hansen), the bowling night, and finished second in the taligate.
A problem was that many of the students left after they announced the homecoming winners. A lot of people who don't usually attend CofC basketball games come to homecoming so they can root for their group to win. Probably one-third or so of the students left after halftime.
The second half was an exciting one. CofC pulled away after UNCG briefly cut the lead to nine points with a 4-0 run. The Cougars heated up after that. They went on a 9-0 run, and were suddenly up by 18. UNCG tried to fight back, but never could get back under double digits.
In the final three or four minutes, the lead got over twenty points, and the game was unofficially over. However, the referees did not let the game go. It seemed like in the second half that a foul was called about every 30 seconds. This made the game very long. Three players fouled out for the Spartans, and two technicals were called; the one on UNCG, and one on CofC with about 13 minutes left.
It didn't matter though, as the Cougars pulled away, leading by as much as 23, eventually winning 81-59. Andrew Lawrence had a good game for CofC, with 17 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals. Kayel Locke led UNCG with 21. Four other CofC players finished in double figures; Adjehi Baru; Willis Hall, Anthony Stitt, and Trent Wiedeman. Wiedeman had 14 points and 12 rebounds in just 25 minutes.
CofC won their next two games on the road after this at Samford and Chattanooga, before the Davidson game on Valentine's Day. UNCG beat Furman before losing to Wofford. Now, they will host Western Carolina on Valentine's Day.
For the crowd assembled at TD Arena, they saw a really good one. The Homecoming crowd was rewarded with a big win with several great performances. For Wes Miller, it was back to more soul-searching, looking for the right combination to try to relive last year's success at the end of the season.
at CHARLESTON 81, NORTH CAROLINA-GREENSBORO 59
NORTH CAROLINA-GREENSBORO 6-15 (4-6) -- J. Freelove 11-17 1-1 29; T. Simpson 4-12 7-7 15; K. Locke 7-15 6-7 21; D. Armstrong 4-9 0-0 8; D. Parker 0-3 3-4 3; D. Williams 0-3 3-4 3; J. Potts 0-4 0-0 0; K. McNeil 2-3 1-2 5; N. Paulos 1-4 1-2 4; B. Cole 0-0 0-0 0; T. McNeely 0-1 0-0 0; D. Robinson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-55 21-26 59.
CHARLESTON 16-7 (8-3) -- A. Lawrence 5-9 4-6 17; A. Stitt 4-7 0-0 10; A. Thomas 1-5 2-4 5; T. Wiedeman 5-10 4-6 14; A. Baru 2-6 6-11 10; W. Hall 4-8 2-2 12; N. Johnson 1-3 2-2 5; T. Johnson 1-4 3-6 5; M. Sundberg 0-1 0-0 0; B. Benton 0-1 0-0 0; H. Bowne 0-0 0-0 0; P. Branin 1-1 0-0 3; T. Dixon 0-2 0-0 0; J. Hall 0-0 0-0 0; C. Cooke 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 23-37 81.
Three-point goals: UNCG 2-14 (D. Parker 0-2; T. Simpson 0-3; D. Armstrong 0-1; N. Paulos 1-4; K. Locke 1-2; J. Potts 0-2), COFC 10-21 (M. Sundberg 0-1; A. Lawrence 3-4; W. Hall 2-2; N. Johnson 1-3; P. Branin 1-1; T. Dixon 0-1; A. Stitt 2-3; T. Johnson 0-2; A. Thomas 1-4); Rebounds: UNCG 28 (K. McNeil 8), COFC 43 (T. Wiedeman 12); Assists: UNCG 7 (D. Parker 2), COFC 16 (A. Lawrence 6); Total Fouls -- UNCG 24, COFC 15; Fouled Out: UNCG-K. Locke; COFC-None.