WRITTEN BY ROBERT DEVITA
Men’s Basketball: This game looked to be in the bag for the Terriers, but they let it slide out of from their hands in the closing seconds losing 72-71.
Final: The madness has officially begun here in the NEC tournament. Tonight’s meeting between the Terriers and Mountaineers might have had the most bizarre ending to any basketball game in the history of the tournament.
The Terriers were up by as many as 19 points with 9:15 to play in the game and they some how blew that lead. The Mountaineers fought tooth and nail for every point from that moment forward. With 2:15 to play Junior forward Lowell Ulmer knocked down a pair of free throws to put them up by 10. A 10 point lead with only 2:15 to play seems to be safe in most cases, but not on this night.
From that point forward everything that possibly could go wrong for the Terriers went wrong. From turnovers to intentional fouls and missed free throws, you name it, it happened. What was looking like a historic win for the basketball program turned into a historic loss at a blink of an eye.
The downfall all started when Terriers Senior guard Ben Mockford committed an intentional foul on Sophomore forward Gregory Graves which rewarded him with two shots and the ball due to the fact it was an intentional foul. He was only able to hit one free throw cutting the lead to 65-60.
The Terriers were able to hit some free throws and get the lead back up to 68-60, but that is when everything fell apart. Mountaineers Senior guard Sam Prescott grabbed a loose ball by the three point line gathered himself went to attempt a shot but was fouled on his attempt by Lowell Ulmer, Prescott would sink all three free throws to cut the lead back down to five. During all this mayhem Terriers junior guard Brent Jones fouled out which proved to be huge as the Terriers did not have an experienced ball handler on the floor.
Then the Terriers would turn the ball over a number of times, where it was clear that they all broke under the pressure of the tight game. As a result of the turnovers the Mountaineers capitalized in a big way. Senior guard Rashad Whack came up with a steal and scores to make it a one point game 70-69.
The Terriers would then turn the ball over again and give the ball right back to the Mountaineers with 26 seconds left. Off a timeout by the Mountaineers the Terriers would force a steal of their own, Lowell Ulmer was then fould with 8.8 seconds remianing in the game and he hit one of two free throws to make it 71-69 with 8 seconds to play.
The Mountaineers in bounded the ball to Senior guard Julian Norfleet he catches the ball at around mid-court dribbles up court finds Rashad Whack, he takes two dribbles and pulls up from three and nails it with 2 seconds left in the game. The Terriers would inbound the ball and throw it away, absolute pandemonium in the arena, it was all so surreal. It really was like a movie that came to life, to see a team with their backs so far against the walls and to win the way that they did, was just unreal.
This game was clearly a tale of two halves, in the first half we saw probably the best half of basketball put together by the Terriers all season long. On the contrary the second half had to be by far the worst half of ball that this team has played. It was like two completely different teams were playing when watching the first half and the second half.
The first half featured great defensive, followed by a smooth flowing offense that was able to get whatever they wanted. They protected the ball and played smart. In the second half we saw none of that what so ever, after only allowing 21 points in the first half the Terriers gave up a whooping 51 points in the second half. They all looked like they were playing scared especially at the end of they game when it got tight. Every guy on the floor looked like they were afraid to make a mistake and when guys start playing like that, thats when the mistakes come.
It truly was a heart breaking loss, this game was shaping up to be one of the nicest wins in program history. It would have made for a nice story and would have showed how far this program has come. This loss is very bitter, it’s hard to swallow any loss, but this one will linger. After the final buzzer the Terriers looked flabbergasted, it was right in front of them and they just could not close it out.
Mount St. Mary’s never back down even when it seemed like it was impossible for them to win, tonight’s game just goes to show that no game is over until the final buzzer. They were led by Rashad Whack who scored a game high 28 points on 7-22 shooting and not to mention the game winning three with 2 seconds left. Whack came up in the clutch and you need to tip your cap to a memorable performance because the guy came up huge.
The Terriers beat themselves tonight, they let the Mountaineers hang around in this game for way too long and it came back to bite them. What also killed them tonight was their late turnovers and constantly sending the Mountaineers to the free throw line. They shot 31-40 from the line this evening, those are 31 free points. To send a team to the line 40 times just shows, how sloppy they were in the second half.
Free throw shooting proved to help the Mountaineers but hurt the Terriers, for the game they shot 23-34 from the line. As a team they missed a number of key free throws down the stretch which proved to be costly.
They were led by Lowell Ulmer who scored 18 points on 5-11 shooting from the field. Sophomore forward Amdy Fall had a nice game scoring 10 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and blocking 3 shots off the bench this evening.
Recently named all NEC First Team Junior forward Jalen Cannon and Senior guard Ben Mockford were both held in check this evening scoring only 8 and 10 points respectively. Tonight looks to be Mockford’s last game of his career, as he is departing after this season. He was truly one of the greats to ever grace the courts at St. Francis College, the sharp shooting lefty will never be forgotten and someone will have some big shoes to fill next season.
The Mountaineers will take on number two seeded Wagner on Saturday Mar, 8th. This win for the Moutaineers was as great as any, they will need to use the momentum of this great victory and put it towards an even better performance against the Seahawks.
With this loss marks the end of a once promising season for the Terriers who have seen their number of ups and downs. Looking back on this season they should be proud of the strives that they have made as a team, it will take time for them to realize it after tonight’s loss but the future is bright for the Terriers they should be a force in the NEC next season.
Halftime: The first half of this NEC quarterfinals is in the books and the Terriers have come out looking like a team on a mission. They are holding on to a commanding 33-21 lead over the Mountaineers.
The last time these two teams meet it was a shoot out, both offenses matching each other blow for blow with the Mountaineers coming out victorious. That has not been the case so far this evening, we have seen a total defensive lockdown by the Terriers as they have only limited the Mountaineers to a total of 21 points in the first half.
In the first half of this one the Terriers have put together arguably their best half of play all season long. They have totally shut down the Mountaineers offense, they have limited them to miniscule field goal percentages so far. The Mountaineers are shooting a total of 5-21 from the field as a team which is on 25% and from behind the arc it gets even worse they are shooting 16.7%.
The Terriers have come out this evening looking to make a statement here in the first round of the playoffs. The defensive effort that they just put on was like none other. The Mountaineer players could not take a shot without a defender or two being drapped all over them. It was truly the best defensive effort put together all season by the Terriers.
On the offensive side the Terriers have been able to get to the basket at will. The paint is open for business as they have gotten what they want on the inside. Junior forward Lowell Ulmer has led the way for the Terriers balanced scoring attack. Ulmer has 9 points on 4-7 shooting from the field.
Freshman forward Wayne Martin and Sophomore forward Amdy Fall have been key contributors off the bench for the Terriers on both ends of the court. Martin has scored 7 points and has grabbed 3 rebounds, Fall has scored 6 points of his own and has pulled down 5 rebounds. As a team the Terriers have been shooting lights out so far, from the field they are shooting 48.4% which is mainly due to their easy looks at the basket.
The best part about the first half for the Terriers was Junior forward Jalen Cannon and Senior guard Ben Mockford have not even got going yet. Cannon the teams leading scorer has only 4 points and Mockford on has 2 points.
The Terrier must keep up the defensive intensity and continue to get easy looks at the basket. If they can do so they will cruise on to the semi-finals of the NEC tournament.