Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wacky Wednesday Night CAA...Fun For the Crowd - Part I

As noted in yesterday's column, yesterday was CAA Wacky Wednesday otherwise known as "Bye or Die!" Six games involving seven teams fighting for a coveted first round bye in the CAA tournament.

So what happened? We had four of the six games decided by one point. One Point! If that's not wacky, I don't know what is. If that's not parity, I don't know what is.

A quick review of the games last night. In a game that had only seeding implications, Towson came from behind in the second half and held on at home to beat Delaware 75-74. Rocky Coleman had 21 for the Tigers while the Blue Hens' Marc Egerson led all scorers with 23 points. Both teams are 5-12. If they remain tied, Towson would finish ninth since they swept the season series.

Old Dominion had a home game against eleventh place William and Mary. With Senior night and a chance to move into sole possession of fourth place, you would think the Monarchs would come out and blow away the Tribe, a 9-19 team that had only two road wins all season. Well you forget that this is CAA Wacky Wednesday and records and stats don't mean a thing. The Tribe came out and shot 49 percent from the field. The game was close in the first half with the Tribe only down one at the half.

The Mary actually took the lead to start the second half at 28-27, but the Monarchs would go back into the lead on a Ben Finney layup and the Monarchs would stretch the lead out to 49-40 with 10 minutes left. The Mary came back to tie the game at 53 and then would actually go ahead 61-58 before Darius James' three pointer tied the game at 61. Another three by Jonathan Adams put the Monarchs up three. The Mary's Danny Summer put within one and the Tribe had several chances to win the game but missed at the end. ODU shot 52 percent from the field led by Finney and Frank Hassell, who each had 13. David Schneider, who had the last chance to win the game for the Tribe but missed a three pointer, led all scorers with 22 points.

The Monarchs as a result of this win combined with both Drexel and Hofstra losing are now in sole possession of fourth place, the last first round bye spot.

Meanwhile, in another game that on paper didn't indicate this game would be this close, George Mason needed a reverse layup from Jon Vaughan with five seconds left to lift the Patriots to a 53-52 win over UNCW which saved the Patriots from a demoralizing loss. The Patriots had been in control of most of the game. An 11-1 run put the Patriots up early 13-4. The Seahawks closed to within one at the half 23-22, but George Mason stretched the lead out to as many as 16, 45-29 with 8:39 left.

But a frantic 11-0 run by UNCW cut the lead to 45-40. After Mason pulled back in front by nine, 49-40, UNCW then went on a 12-2 run capped by a Montez Downey three pointer with 21 seconds left. This setup Vaughan for his heroics, but the Seahawks had one last chance, as Chad Tomko's three pointer hit the back of the rim at the buzzer and bounced off. The Seahawks only have themselves to blame for the loss. In a stat that always comes back to haunt you, the UNCW shot an abysmal 8 of 18 from the free throw line. The Patriots are now 12-5 in conference, still tied for second place with Northeastern.

Speaking of which, Northeastern faced Drexel last night in a rematch of major implications. Drexel won the first matchup at Northeastern and looked to sweep the season series last night. A Drexel win would have resulted in a tie for third place in the CAA with the Dragons holding the tiebreaker (of course ODU and Hofstra could have made it a four way tie for third..still trying to figure out if that happened what would have been the tiebreaker..hurts my head too much).

Anyway, the Huskies were looking for revenge and early on it looked like they were going to get it. Northeastern came out hot, scoring the first twelve points and it looked like Drexel was going to get blown out of its own building. But just like the first game the two teams played, when one team went on a run, the other answered. The Dragons scored nine of the next eleven points and cut the lead to 16-9. Northeastern would go back out by nine, 20-11, but Drexel again would cut into that and actually tied the game at 25 before two free throws by Nkem Ojougboh put Northeastern up at the half 27-25.

If you thought the halftime score was low, well get ready for the second half. Here's probably the sounds you heard in the second half if you were at the game

Clank! Doing! Clank! Clong! Bam!

Pow! Oooof! Awww! Ouuuuch!

No, those are not the sounds of a Batman episode. Those were the sounds off balls clanging off the rims and backboards and the sounds of a typical physical foulfest game that only Drexel and Northeastern could play. Naismith was probably rolling in his grave in this brickfest of a second half as both teams managed to score a combined 41 points in the second half. Yes, this might be good defense. But when one team Drexel shoots 27 percent from the floor, 29 percent for the game and shoots 2 of 6 from the line in the second half and 4 of 10 from the line for the game, that's just not good offense (Northeastern only shot 38 percent for the game)

Anyway, back to the second half slugfest. The teams went back and forth the entire second half. With 3:43 left, Drexel's Evan Neisler hit the first of two free throws to put Drexel up 46-45. Look at that score. 46-45. Look at the time left. 3:43. That would be the score for the next THREE MINUTES AND FORTY ONE SECONDS. Those aforementioned sounds I told you about. Those were the only sounds you heard if you were at the game during those three minutes and forty one seconds. Drexel would miss seven shots and a free throw during this time. Northeastern would miss five shots and have a turnover during this time. If you were a fan of either team at that game last night, you would have been so frustrated that you would have poked your eye out during this time.

Well finally, Baptiste Bataille rebounded a Matt Janning layup and hit a jumper with two seconds left to give Northeastern the win 47-46. How did the game end. On a turnover, how fitting. With the win, Northeastern remains tied with George Mason for second place in the CAA. With the loss, Drexel is now tied with Hofstra for fifth in the CAA.

I will be back with the second half of CAA Wacky Wednesday later today. My head hurts too much after this and I need a clear head to discuss Hofstra's ugly effort, plus all the wild scenarios still in place for the CAA tournament seedings. Enjoy.

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