Game #9-394: Gardner-Webb Bulldogs at Charleston Southern BuccaneersJanuary 30, 2013 7:30 pm
The Big South leading Charleston Southern Buccaneers had another big game against the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs. Charleston Southern was the last team in the Big South to be undefeated, having won all seven games in conference to start. But to keep ahead of defending champion UNC Asheville, the Bucs would have to keep winning. Like in Charleston Southern's big win against UNC Asheville, I decided to sit at floor level again
. This time I decided to sit in the baseline seats I have talked about before, the seats that were not put in until 2009 because even CSU did not feel that there was enough room to put them in. But those seats have now been in place for four years, and it was time for me to sit in them so I could be even closer to Division I basketball!
I could write about the experience of being right on top of the action again like I did last time. Or I could talk about being in a section with mostly CSU students, as there is no separation between the public general admission and the students at Charleston Southern. But as always I had a camera, so I can try to present how the game felt
from where I was. I have thought about doing a recap of mostly pictures before, so let's give it a try here. We'll start by showing how close my seat was to the floor.
Yeah, that close. And that photo was taken without any
zoom at all. The camera lens was only as far out as it comes when I turn on the camera. It is hard to be that close anywhere else, and you are immediately on top of the action when the game is played at that basket. I was not up close to plays being made at the other basket, but my view still was not that bad. It was not like James Squire's experience in St. Louis, paying for an expensive seat at court-level only to have the basket support block your view.
Like in most small gyms, the basket is attached to the ceiling, allowing it to be retracted when the gym is used for other purposes. I still did not take many pictures of action on the other end, just because zooming in and the back out would cause me to miss a good opportunity for a picture towards where I was sitting. I hoped to get dunk shots better than what I have taken so far. When I pointed towards the rim closest to me, the camera was mostly pointed up from where I was sitting which gives an interesting vantage point. I tried a few times in warm-ups to take a dunk shot with my cell phone so I could tweet a dunk shot. Kyle also mentioned a potential challenge during the offseason of submitting an Instagram of a dunk, so I was also going for that possibility. But I could never quite time a dunk shot with my cell phone. I did get many dunk shots with my regular camera in warm-ups, but subsequently none in the game. Here is one of my many shots of a Gardner-Webb warm-up dunk.
And here's another! Note the vantage point from where I am taking the picture, as you are looking up with the ceiling of the Buc Dome providing the background of the picture. I got a lot more Gardner-Webb shots than Charleston Southern shots as the Runnin' Bulldogs warmed up before the game at the end I was sitting at since that was their first half basket.
Once warm-ups were over, the teams went back to the locker room to get ready for the game. Charleston Southern uses an American-style football entrance for basketball as seen here. The Bucs after a so-so start were now playing up to expectations and possibly beyond once conference play started, and had to be feeling pretty good about themselves coming in to this game.
It is not too common for schools like to Charleston Southern to act overconfident. But Charleston Southern's students had reason to be excited about this team, and may have overlooked Gardner-Webb. While many outsiders are surprised to learn that Charleston Southern is actually in the northern part of North Charleston, one CSU student tried to pick at the obscurity of where Gardner-Webb is from. In case anyone wonders, Gardner-Webb is located in Boiling Springs, NC, less than ten miles north of the South Carolina state line. GWU is located just over an hour west of Charlotte about halfway between the small cities of Shelby, NC and Gaffney, SC.
Charleston Southern entered the game at 7-0 in conference, and Gardner-Webb 3-4. With the Bucs playing at home, it seemed that this would be an easy win for them. But not too long ago Gardner-Webb was the hottest team in the conference. Gardner-Webb went 7-6 in non-conference play, much better than their Big South counterparts who were woeful early on this year. CSU went 5-6 out-of-conference, with their best win coming over East Tennessee State on the road (the Bucs lost to their fellow Bucs at home). Charleston Southern could not take this game for granted, especially given how momentum has shifted so much in the conference this year.
And Gardner-Webb would win the tip here and off they ran with it, as you can see Donta Harper here trying to go for a quick layup. But Harper would miss and it would be quickly rebounded by a fellow Harper in Arlon of Charleston Southern. Charleston Southern would wind up with the first points of the game, and ad a slight lead early on. But like against UNC Asheville, the Bucs could not get any momentum early at home.
But unlike the UNC Asheville game, these Bulldogs would not get off to a big lead over the home-standing Bucs. That should be more beneficial to Charleston Southern, right? Here is Donta Harper again, trying to keep the ball in play as Jeremy Sexton traps him in the corner.
The great thing about sitting on the baseline is how you can see everything unfold on one end. It is particularly good when you see the players coming together as the offense attacks the basket. That is why professional photographers usually sit on the baseline, often as close as the fans sit here at Charleston Southern. I am not a professional by any means, as you can see with the quality of this picture here. But you do get a nice visual of the intensity of Our Game's action.
Here is another picture of the vantage point I had. I always like pictures of players boxing out on the rebound. You can see the anticipation in their eyes knowing that there definitely will be a shot, and their intensity in knowing that they need to be in position to catch the ball if the shooter misses.
Also from my vantage point, the players often look like they are coming right at you
. And the reason is because in many cases they sort of are. That is something as a fan you have to look out for, as when players crash out of bounds it is not usually at midcourt. Fortunately, you do not have to worry about Shaq sized players landing on top of you in Big South basketball.
But all these guys are big enough that it would not be good if they did land on you. Here is Onzie Branch of Gardner-Webb coming towards me as he corrals in a loose ball.
The strengths of the teams tonight was in their backcourt. But the forwards had to be there to rebound the ball. Here is a rebound battle you do not really want to see if you are Barclay Radebaugh: Arlon Harper and Paul Gombwer fighting each other for a rebound off a missed Gardner-Webb three-point attempt in the final minute of the half, with Harper and Gombwer being CSU teammates. Gombwer on the right did come away with the rebound by going over Harper's back, but one teammate needs to call the other off (sort of like in baseball where one outfielder who calls for the catch to avoid a collision).
Midway through the first half, Gardner-Webb was able to erase Charleston Southern's lead with a big 9-1 run to put GWU up five. CSU fought back to make it 26-24 Gardner-Webb at halftime. It was not a good first half for the Bucs who have in recent games shot the ball lights out. Charleston Southern could not afford to lose their shooting touch, which has kept the team going in its start to Big South play. CSU had to regroup coming out of the half and somehow find what they had to beat UNC Asheville.
Here is a good shot of Charleston Southern driving to the basket. Of course you can't see the Buccaneer because of the flashing light behind him in the corner of CSU Field House. Most likely that was because of a professional photographer saw the same opportunity for a picture I did and used a strobe effect. Photographers do this since they are not allowed to flash a light right in a player's face, but still want efficient light to take the picture. Of course with my tiny zoom camera I cannot adjust for the light of the flash as I am taking this picture. A professional with a good enough camera probably could take a quality picture without needing any flash device as for whatever its flaws as a modern basketball arena CSU Field House actually has decent lighting.
How close was I to the game? On in-bounds plays, I was literally right behind the player in-bounding sometimes. Here is a picture taken of Gardner-Webb's Kevin Hartley as he is getting ready out of a timeout to in-bound the ball, taken with absolutely no zoom at all on the camera. And yes, Hartley is his last name, not Harltey
. That has to be a pretty embarrassing mess-up for Gardner-Webb in producing their uniforms.
Charleston Southern's offense did improve in the second half to give them a chance, and they did get a slight lead again early in the second half. That was largely through the efforts of the smallest player on the court in Saah Nimley, who shot five for ten from behind the arc and finished with a game high 27 points. It is great to see guys like Nimley who is only 5-8 do well in Our Game. And in Hoops Nation it is often the small guys who come up big. Both teams relied on their backcourt, with GWU also getting major production through Tashan Newsome. Here is Nimley when he is at a disadvantage, trying to look around Gardner-Webb's Jerome Hill. Hill is nine inches taller than Nimley, and it does not help matters for the little guy when the big guy is jumping up.
Here is a picture that has been the story of the season so far: officials getting ready to look at the monitor again. College basketball is starting to go the way of the NFL with the game delayed frequently to review the play. It makes sense for buzzer situations, but after every hard foul to see if it was flagrant? It has been unusually excessive this season.
Nimley is small, but he does a good job fighting his way to the basket. While he can't post up on guys, he can draw fouls pretty well. Nimley made six of seven free throws on this evening.
But it is not just the little guys who can shoot. 6-5 Mathiang Muo here takes a superhoop shot while his teammates look on. Long distance shooting would be important for the Bucs in staying in the game, and Muo would be part of it.
Here we take you a little closer into the heart of the game, zooming in on Nimley as he drives by Gardner-Webb's Tyler Strange.
Here is another outside shot, this time by Jeremy Sexton. Sexton as I mentioned last time I saw him went 7 for 7 from behind the arc in the first half against High Point
. Sexton could not catch the same fire this evening, although he still finished with 12 points. The Bucs would need somebody to step up alongside Nimley as Gardner-Webb made another mid-half run in the second half.
Here is Shledon Strickland trying to take on three big Gardner-Webb players at once. GWU had a size advantage, and between the forwards and Newsome GWU had the edge for most of the second half.
Here is one of Nimley's courageous dries to the basket as CSU kept fighting with the game even midway through the second half.
Yet the energy in the building did not seem to be there for Charleston Southern. It was not quite like the low-key environment like against High Point, but it was not quite like the atmosphere against UNC Asheville. I was as close to the action as I was that game, but I just did not get the same feeling of intensity throughout as at that game. Fewer students were standing, and Charleston Southern could not put together a big run to counter Gardner-Webb. It seemed that tonight would be the night that somewhat unexpectedly Charleston Southern would take its first conference loss. Gardner-Webb had the ball and was up by ten points with 90 seconds left. But CSU stopped the Runnin' Bulldogs and got five quick points in 30 seconds. Now Charleston Southern had to bring the pressure on Gardner-Webb.
After cutting the GWU lead to five, GWU did struggle to get the ball in on the above play but did so. And Jarvis Davis made his free throws to give Gardner-Webb a still comfortable seven point lead with 50 seconds left. But Nimley would respond with a three to make it somewhat close again. This time when Gardner-Webb was fouled they missed the bonus, only for Charleston Southern to lose the rebound out-of-bounds. But coming out of a timeout GWU would never get the ball in-bounded as they were whistled for five seconds. Muo took the ball downcourt and drove to the basket and put-back his own miss to make it a two point game. Now we had a close game again! Everything was going right for Charleston Southern so far to come back. Donta Harper made his first free throw, so now CSU needed a miss on this free throw here...
And they got it! Nimley missed a potential tying three, but the loose ball on the rebound went off the Runnin' Bulldogs. Radebaugh called timeout to help set up a final play, and everybody was on their feet this time as Sexton got ready to in-bound the ball.
The ball went to Muo in the corner. Muo had the CSU students right behind him, and GWU defenders right in front of him. But somehow he had to take an off balance three...
And he made it to tie the game! (Sorry, I did not have the right angle or timing to take the picture of the big #superhoop) The fans spilled out on to the court after a desperation heave by GWU was off at the buzzer, even though this game would still be going. CSU had to get security to force the fans off at the warning of potentially getting a technical foul for the fans' behavior. But you really could not blame the fans after the exciting finish to regulation, especially sense there was no room in the building for them to jump around on except the court!
The fans were excited, the players were now energized, and everything was going Charleston Southern's way! Despite looking unlikely earlier, it seemed that things were finally going to work out for CSU in their quest to go 8-0 in the Big South!
But basketball can be strange, and momentum has its way of being stopped. Charleston Southern had used a lot of energy to pull even, and had to get ready for the second tip-off of the game.
Charleston Southern would take the early OT lead on Nimley free throws. But Gardner-Webb would not back down after having blown a big lead. I heard some students yell at the GWU players at how badly they blew the game, trying to keep the Runnin' Bulldogs rattled. Yet GWU kept calm and matched each Buccaneer basket. After Sexton put CSU ahead by two with less than a minute left, Tashan Newsome who had been given a hard time about his braided hair by the CSU students made a basket and got fouled. Newsome went on to make the and one to give GWU the lead. Now the momentum had switched back to the Runnin' Bulldogs, and the Bucs were visibly frustrated at this new turn of events.
But Charleston Southern still had 30 seconds left. Muo had already made a clutch shot, so CSU kept going to him hoping for another one. Muo's shot with ten seconds left was off, but CSU stayed alive with a rebound. Radebaugh called timeout, and everybody was on their feet again as this one point game was about to be decided.
CSU tried to go inside again to Muo, but he could not get a clean shot over Newsome off at the buzzer. Newsome grabbed the ball and gave one last whoop to the fans who had heckled him all game. After that big comeback, Charleston Southern still had its first loss of Big South play. The craziness of the game made me excited to see Ken Pomeroy's analysis of it as one of the top comebacks of the year in Division I. But it did not turn out to be so after Gardner-Webb won. The Big South race has shifted a lot this season, and such would be the case as well during this game. Hitting this bump has caused Charleston Southern to fall back to the pack, and only time can tell if momentum can shift back in their favor.
Charleston Southern has had a successful season. And with the school's athletic teams struggling in recent years, many feel it is this basketball team that can carry CSU to athletic success. And when that team takes an unexpected fall, it can be hard on the fans. Let's end this recap with a look at how the Charleston Southern students felt after Muo's last shot came up short for the Buccaneers.
GARDNER-WEBB 74, at CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 73
GARDNER-WEBB 12-10 (4-4) -- K. Hartley 3-5 1-2 9; T. Newsome 10-18 1-1 22; D. Harper 0-5 5-8 5; T. Strange 5-10 0-1 13; J. Hill 1-1 0-0 2; J. Davis 4-7 5-5 14; M. Landis 2-5 0-0 5; O. Branch 0-3 0-0 0; M. Byron 0-1 2-2 2; I. Ivey 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-56 14-19 74.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 12-7 (7-1) -- J. Sexton 4-12 2-2 12; S. Nimley 8-21 6-7 27; M. Muo 4-12 4-4 14; A. Harper 5-13 0-0 11; A. Fullah 1-2 1-2 3; P. Gombwer 2-4 0-0 4; S. Strickland 1-3 0-0 2; M. Bernard 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 25-67 13-17 73.
Three-point goals: GWB 8-19 (T. Newsome 1-3; J. Davis 1-2; T. Strange 3-6; M. Landis 1-4; K. Hartley 2-4), CHSO 10-25 (J. Sexton 2-6; M. Muo 2-5; A. Harper 1-4; S. Nimley 5-10); Rebounds: GWB 35 (T. Newsome 10), CHSO 31 (S. Nimley 10); Assists: GWB 14 (T. Strange 4), CHSO 11 (S. Nimley 4); Total Fouls -- GWB 14, CHSO 14; Fouled Out: GWB-J. Hill; CHSO-None.