As I boarded the 4:50 am train in Washington D.C., I had high hopes for the teams from DC and Virginia.
VCU was the Atlantic 10 winner. George Mason was in the top four until the last couple weeks of the season. George Washington had beat UMass the night before. Over in the Big East, Georgetown finished in a 3-way tie for third and was facing the same Seton Hall team that had defeated the week before. Surely, one of them would make a run, right? RIGHT?
VCU vs Rhode Island
First up was VCU vs. Rhode Island. Of course, everyone knew this would be a tough game but VCU had won 12 in a row. The two teams split during the regular season but VCU’s 76-42 win was so dominant, it seemed like they would’ve found a way to win. But, in the first half, starting point guard, Marcus Evans would go down with a knee injury and the VCU was never able to pull away from Rhode Island.
A Dana Tate layup with seven minutes left would give Rhode Island a lead. The lead would get as large as eight before VCU staged one final push. A Marcus Santos-Silva layup would bring VCU to within 73-70. Santos-Silva would finish the game with 26 points and 22 rebounds. With five seconds remaining, Mike’L Simms had a chance to tie the game on a three pointer but missed. VCU would fall 75-70.
VCU ATHLETICS UPDATE ON EVANS INJURY: “Marcus had an MRI this morning and met with our team doctors. There is no structural damage, and he is working with our trainer to be ready to play in the NCAA tournament” Coach Mike Rhoades
George Mason vs George Washington
Ok. I was down one game but I knew I would get a win the next game because George Mason was playing George Washington
The two teams had met the prior week with George Mason dominating the Colonials, 81-65. Imagine how tight the Mason faithful got when the game was tied, 31-31, at halftime. Just Kier had scored 15 of 31 points. He looked like the dominant Kier we saw early in the season. For the Colonials, they had three players with 7 points as the tried to pound the ball inside.
In the second half, George Washington would take a five point with 6:22 left but the Patriots would wake up. Otis Livingston II and Kier combined for eight of Mason’s last 14 points in the 61-57 victory. Despite the improved effort by the Colonials, head coach Maurice Joseph would be let go the next morning.
Georgetown vs Seton Hall
Phew. Had my first win. Now lets head to the Garden where four different people told me the wrong Media Credential entrance. On the bright side, I got in some extra steps.
I’m pretty hyped about this one. The same two teams had just played a two overtime game the week before. It was a good, physical, “I hate you” type of game. Unfortunately, using the word “game” for this would be offensive to “game” and his/her family.
From the tip it was all Seton Hall. The Pirates all-world player, Myles Powell, would set a record for the most points scored in a half in a Big East Tournament game. Powell scored 29 points in the first half, Georgetown scored 28. “We did everything, said head coach Patrick Ewing. We tried to trap him. It didn’t work. He was able to drive awy from the trap.”
Down 53-28 at halftime, the Hoyas didn’t give up. They would get to within 14 points in the second half. They had several opportunities to get it below that mark but couldn’t. The Hoyas would fall 73-57 and it really wasn’t that close.
The blowout ended a season where Georgetown’s three freshmen all made significant contributions. Georgetown will be a team to watch in another recruiting class or two. As for this season, they were probably two wins shy of making the NCAA Tournament.
I hadn’t even been in New York City for 24 hours and I had lost three out of four teams.
After a night that bled into the morning… deep into the morning, I got prepared to head back to Brooklyn for my last remaining team, George Mason
George Mason vs St. Bonaventure
Lets just completely ignore that the Bonnies had beaten Mason in February by 23. That game had been erased from our minds…. well… sort of. But, today was a new day that, unfortunately would produce the same result last time.
George Mason would score the first five points of the game but that would be the highlight. Once St. Bonaventure took the lead at 9-8, they never trailed again. A LaDarien Griffin free throw gave the Bonnies their largest lead in the first half at 11. Mason would battle to get it back within six before Dominick Welch’s three with less than a minute left pushed the Bonnies lead back to 10.
An Osun Osunniyi free throw after the under 16, gave St. Bonaventure their biggest lead at 15. But, a lot like Georgetown the night before, Mason would battle back. A James Hartwell II three pointer with 4:03 cut the lead down to eight. Mason had two chances to get the lead below the eight but they couldn’t convert. A quick 8-3 Bonnies run push the lead 13 with 42 seconds left. The Patriots would fall 68-57.
The Bonnies three freshmen were the difference. Kyle Lofton and Dominick Welch would score 20 a piece. Osun Osunniyi would have seven points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots.
With no teams, left I spent the weekend bouncing back in forth between the Big East and Atlantic 10 tournaments watching teams from other places and their fans celebrate. Oh well… sometimes the bite of the apple is sour.