Wednesday and Thursday featured some of the best games of the season.
Wednesday featured two one-point decisions, and an overtime win from Northeastern.
On Thursday, Old Dominion rallied from a double-digit deficit, and pushed Drexel to the limit. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough.
We saw multiple superb performances. Damion Lee, Moussa Kone and Freddie Jackson all scored career-highs.
With 26 points, Manny Atkins tied his career-high. His teammate, Devonta White, joined Georgia State’s 1000-point club. RJ Hunter broke the school’s 23-year old record for most points in a season. Hunter finished with 527 points to end a spectacular season. I’m surprised he didn’t do that weeks ago.
William & Mary’s Big Three scored 17 points apiece, but it was the surprising play of Julian Boatner, who surpassed double-digit scoring for the first time since January 11th, 2012, that cued the Tribe’s win over UNCW.
Georgia State gave Northeastern all it could handle. In the end, a healthy Joel Smith reminded us why the Huskies are the team to beat in Richmond.
The Huskies placed five scorers in double figures, led by Smith’s 29 points. Jon Lee fell one assist shy of a double-double. David Walker and Zach Stahl continued to play with the tranquility of upperclassmen.
Those four guys, two freshmen and two seniors, took all 27 of Northeastern’s free throw attempts. They also made each and every attempt.
An overtime game doesn’t need much explanation, especially because Joel Smith did what he’s done time and time again this year: let the other team hang around before taking over in the end. This time, Smith hit a dagger three that put Northeastern up four with under 30 seconds left in overtime .
As for the pre-overtime saga, we’ll let Ray Glier do the talking.
It’s a disappointing end to the season for the everyone that’s not a Northeastern fan. I think almost everyone wanted to see Georgia State playing in the CBI/CIT.
However, there’s a silver lining. Northeastern is now in position for a 20-win season. After a rough run through the nonconference slate, it was really questionable whether or not any team would hit that mark. Northeastern rose the occasion.
The Panthers will lose only one senior next year. James Vincent is a key cog – he’ll probably be on the CAA All-Defensive team. Here’s a nice read from the AJC’s Doug Roberson, with a Q&A from Vincent. The Panthers will miss Vincent’s shot-blocking abilities, and as he showed in Saturday win over James Madison, he can also score.
I expect the Panthers to compensate for the missing blocks with more steals. They already earn steals on 10.2% of all plays, good for 48th in the country. Considering what they lost last year, and how they responded, we can expect them to continue to grow into a strong defensive team.
The key will be rebounding. The addition of Southern California-transfer Curtis Washington should help there, and I’m interested to see what Markus Crider can do with a year of experience under his belt.
Having a senior point guard in White will do wonders for a team that only committed 11.6 turnovers a game (41st in the country). White and Atkins, surrounded by an exciting young core, should be in for big senior years.
Moussa Kone set a new career-high in the first half, and finished with 18 for the game.
Unfortunately, the sophomore big man got into foul trouble in the second half, and Delaware overcame a rough night from the free-throw line (for them, at least) to steal another victory on Senior Night victory, with a 57-56 win at Hofstra.
Both offenses were anemic in the first half. As a team, Delaware scored one field goal more than Kone. The Blue Hens shot 22.6% from the field, and Hofstra, riding Kone’s coattail, took a five-point lead into halftime.
The scoring picked up in the second half. Hofstra actually shot better from the field, but Delaware, as we would expect, made its living from the charity stripe. Devon Saddler scored a game-high 19 points, and Jamelle Hagins, who played all 40 minutes, had a line of 12 rebounds, eight points and five blocks.
Delaware is now locked into the two-seed, and will play Hofstra again in the first round of the CAA Tournament.
Kone’s been impressive in Hofstra’ last two games. Granted, he was a bit silent in the second half of both games (fouls have been a problem) but he runs the floor well, and has a nice touch around the hoop.
As we mentioned last time, we’re high on the potential of the frontcourt trio of Kone, Stephen Nwaukoni and Daquan Brown.
Losing on Senior Night shouldn’t doesn’t have to be quite as hard on Hofstra as it was for the other schools that lost on Wednesday and Thursday. The Pride still gets to make a trip to Richmond, and can deny Towson of a history-making season.
Two nights after Jerrelle Benimon completed the best first half of basketball of the season (in our league, but I’d like to know who’s been better nationally), Damion Lee one-upped the Towson star.
Damion Lee shot 9-of-9 from the field and made six 3-pointers in the first half. By the end of the game Lee had a new career-high of 34 points (with 10 rebounds). Drexel made plays down the stretch to secure an 81-77 win over Old Dominion.
Frantz Massenat had 22 points. Massenat and Derrick Thomas each had six assists. When the Monarchs rallied in the second half, Tavon Allen and Dartaye Ruffin scored timely buckets for Drexel.
Another Senior Night spoiled, and it’s sad to see DeShawn Painter, and especially Nick Wright, go out like that. Painter was great as always, notching a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards. Aaron Bacote, Donte Hill and Dimitri Batten joined him in double figures.
I didn’t get to watch the game, but it seems that the Dragons made their living in transition and with points off turnovers.
It doesn’t show in the box score, but Matt Rum was William & Mary’s hero on Wednesday night.
After UNCW’s Tanner Milson hit a critical game-tying 3-pointer with less than two seconds to play, Rum quickly picked up the ball and saw #Beasthoven standing under the basket at the other end of the court.
Rum made a gutsy fullcourt heave, and Chris Dixon, trying to catch up to the play, fouled Tim Rusthoven during the shot. The shot didn’t go, but #Beasthoven made a free throw attempt, and the Tribe ruined the Keith Rendleman’s final home game with a 73-72 win.
The Seahawks honored Rendleman and classmate Matt Wilson, who tied a season-high with 13 minutes played. Rendleman churned out yet another impressive statline, finishing with 24 points, 11 boards, four blocks and three steals. It was his eight consecutive double-double.
He’s taken his beastly play to another planet recently.
The Tribe led by six with 16 seconds left, but shaky free-throw shooting and clutch threes from Rendleman and Milson contributed to the wild finish.
It was a game of massive runs. William & Mary sandwiched a 10 consecutive points and a 13-3 run around a 15-0 run from UNCW. The Seahawks’ run came right before halftime.
Two key stats jump out from the box score. The Tribe shot just 1-of-7 from three in the first half. This resulted in a lot of open looks in the second half, when the Tribe shot 6-of-8 from deep.
The second is that UNCW shot just 9-of-16 from the foul line. In a one-point game, that’s the difference.
Definitely check out that box score – striking similarities from both sides.
Brian Mull says it was the best game of Freddie Jackson’s career.
But it was all moot for the Seahawks, who have played very well at home this year, because Senior Night ended with a loss.
Rendleman on the heart-wrenching loss: “There are really no words to describe it.”
Obviously a disappointing loss for Rendleman, who now has just one final game to finish off an epic career. Still, he’ll be playing professionally somewhere soon.