Home » Conference Notes » Currently Reading:

Big South Semifinals

March 8, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big South Semifinals Recap

by Michael Protos

And that’s why they play the games…

No matter what logic may dictate in predicting winners in March collegiate basketball games, madness is the rule. Thou shalt not attempt to bring order to the chaos. The basketball gods will smite all who demand that the top seeds romp their way to a championship. And the Big South conference cannot escape these decrees.

Friday night’s semifinal action pitted 1st-seeded Winthrop against 5th-seeded UNC-Asheville in the early game, followed by host and 2nd-seeded Liberty against 6th-seeded Radford. Both of the favored teams fell in tightly contested games.

In six games in the Big South’s tournament, five have been decided by four points or less and three games needed an extra session to determine a winner. The Big South has not one, but two Cinderella stories to celebrate and one will earn a chance to go to the Big Dance by winning the Big South’s championship game Saturday at Lynchburg, Va. Look for the game on ESPN at 2 p.m. Based on the tournament’s results so far, you may be hard pressed to find more excitement for two hours.

No. 1 Winthrop vs. No. 5 UNC-Asheville

This match-up featured everything. A second-half comeback from a double-digit deficit. Overtime. Buzzer-beaters. Nine players scoring in double figures. And in the end, a remarkable upset by the tournament’s most amazing story.

UNC-Asheville managed to win only a single game away from home this season, and that victory came in January to lowly High Point, 64-60. The Bulldogs’ chances of winning two in a row against the Big South’s top contenders seemed slim to none. But odds don’t count for much to players on the court. Just ask UNC-Asheville’s senior guard Alex Kragel. Down by a point in overtime with less than ten seconds remaining, Kragel found a crack in the Eagles’ defense to step inside the three-point line and drain the winning shot, sending UNC-Asheville to a thrilling 81-80 victory and a chance to play for the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Winthrop led by four at the half and extended the lead to eleven before the Bulldogs charged back. The rally culminated in freshman Chad Mohn’s tying three-pointer with 18.9 seconds left in regulation. The freshman then maintained the presence to harass junior Tyrone Walker, blocking his attempt to send the Eagles to victory.

In overtime, Winthrop and UNC-Asheville shared time leading, setting up another dramatic ending. Trailing by two, Winthrop fed sophomore guard Ivan Jenkins the ball in the corner and he hit the three-pointer with 7.9 seconds remaining. UNC-Asheville did not lose its composure in the face of adversity. The Bulldogs traversed the length of the court to set up Kragel’s clutch game-winner.

Five Winthrop players scored in double figures, with Walker leading the team with sixteen points. Sophomore Josh Grant played big in tallying fourteen points and eleven rebounds. Winthrop committed eight fewer turnovers, but lost the rebounding battle by five. The Eagles fell apart from the line, shooting a dismal 42 percent and missing eleven attempts.

The Bulldogs were led by senior guard Andre Smith, who led all scores with 20 points. Fellow senior, center Ben McGonagil earned a double-double with fifteen points and twelve rebounds to assist the charge to victory. Speak on it, playa: “They’re a good team and have been our nemesis over the years. Beating them is great. We can’t think about the win too much because we have to get ready for the next game. We didn’t come here to get to the Championship game, we came to win it,” McGonagil said.

The Bulldogs are there. Next, they face…

No. 2 Liberty vs. No. 6 Radford

Neither of these teams finished the regular season strongly as Liberty went 5-5 in its final ten games while Radford went 3-7. But the post-season offers redemption. Radford defeated the Flames in the season finale and looked to repeat the performance exactly a week later. After upsetting Charleston Southern Tuesday, the Highlanders had their sites set on bringing down the Flames on their own home floor.

Mission accomplished. Radford erased a two-point deficit early in the second half. Liberty rallied to take the lead with less than three minutes remaining when senior forward Vince Okotie hit a three to give the Flames a one-point lead. But Radford reclaimed the lead for good on a three by senior guard Raymond Arrington. Both teams missed pivotal free throws down the stretch. In the end, Radford upset Liberty 55-52 to advance to the championship game against UNC-Asheville.

Arrington led all scores with seventeen points. Liberty’s junior guard Gabe Martin led the Flames with fifteen points and Okotie contributed a double-double with fourteen points and ten rebounds. The teams finished nearly equal in every major statistical category. The difference in the end came down to which team could hit the critical shots. And Radford emerged victorious by preventing Liberty from hitting a pair of shots in the waning moments of the game.

Previewing the championship game

By advancing to the championship game, Radford completes the match-up with the lowest seeds in Big South conference tournament history. 5th-seeded UNC-Asheville will actually be favored to win based on seeding alone. If this tournament has taught any lessons, though, it’s that a seeding is nothing more than a number. It does not dictate play.

UNC-Asheville and Radford split their regular season meetings, each defending their respective home courts. Now the final battle for the opportunity to earn NCAA Tournament Cinderella status will occur at the neutral Lynchburg, Va., location.

     

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – October 2, 2017

October 2, 2017 by

The FBI has zeroed in on college basketball in a big way, and what has happened may be the beginning of a massive hit to the sport. We discuss what we know thus far in our latest podcast.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – August 17, 2017

August 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we check in with some good news from a few teams overseas after a big scare, plus a big addition for a championship contender, a conference on the rise, and a great coach thinking about a return to the bench.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – June 21, 2017

June 21, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about the NBA Draft, of course, but spend much more time on the happenings at Ohio State and Louisville and the implications starting next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – May 17, 2017

May 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we start with the NBA Draft Lottery, then talk about a big pickup for Duke, important transfers, the coaching carousel winding down and much more.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, the business of college sports, as well as that of sports media, takes center stage. We talk about the layoffs at ESPN, college basketball’s opening night, and Wichita State’s departure from the Missouri Valley Conference. We close with thoughts on a departed friend of the media business as well.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.