It took 90 conference games to set the table for Baltimore, and eight fallen chefs to prepare the feast.
Tonight, Northeastern and William & Mary get to eat the entrée. We know only one of them will be invited for dessert.
In the clashes that determined who would cook and who would dine, we saw a paradigm of the passion that goes into the prep work, and the validation of our adoration for college basketball.
The Tribe’s last two quests for an NCAA Tournament berth ended when Marcus Thornton’s 3-pointers rimmed out. On Sunday afternoon, it was the three-point shot he didn’t take that allowed William & Mary to give it another go.
Thornton passed up a well-contested jumper and kicked the ball to Daniel Dixon. The sophomore guard with the gimpy hamstring coolly knocked down a corner 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to complete William & Mary’s electrifying 92-91 double overtime victory.
We hear coaches say it all the time, but these close games always comes down to someone making a winning play. For a contest with two overtimes, nine ties, and 12 lead changes, that certainly held true.
On Sunday afternoon, Dixon hit the biggest shot of his life to do just that.
The nonpartisan can’t help but lament for the Pride, just as they would’ve felt for the Tribe had Dixon’s shot missed the mark.
We feel for Juan’ya Green and Brian Bernardi, who were largely magnificent in their abilities to quell the pro-Tribe crowd with big shot after big shot.
We feel for seniors Moussa Kone and Dion Nesmith, just as we feel for Freddie Jackson, Adjehi Baru, and every other player whose NCAA Tournament dreams perished in Baltimore.
And tonight, we’ll be feeling for Thornton or Scott Eatherton, just how we felt for Britt, Beasthoven, Boatner, and Gaillard 364 days ago.
It’s difficult to crystallize such an exhilarating event with words. There’s a reason why guys like Dave Fairbank get paid to do it.
As for me, I’ll let the video and this graph speak for itself.
Northeastern’s 78-71 win against UNCW didn’t come down to last-second heroics, but the game wasn’t lacking in star performances.
Craig Ponder made several big plays throughout the game, and Jordon Talley still got the rim at will. Bill Coen will have summer nightmares when he realizes he’s got to face that kid for three more seasons.
But the Huskies didn’t let Addison Spruill and Freddie Jackson get anything easy, and Scott Eatherton and David Walker spearheaded a Husky offense that scored 1.2 points per possession while committing just two turnovers in the second half.
Again and again, NU role players Devon Begley, Caleb Donnelly, and Reggie Spencer interjected with timely buckets to spur the squad along. The Husky bench tallied 33 points, and helped alleviate Quincy Ford and Zach Stahl’s struggles.
The tumultuous weekend left us with a Monday might rubber match between Northeastern and William & Mary. The cool thing about the new-look CAA is that most of these schools haven’t danced for many years. Northeastern hasn’t boogied since 1991. None of the players on the team were alive then.
And you know William & Mary’s been taking dancing lessons for the past decade in preparation.
Hope everyone left room for dessert.