Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, January 21, 2016, 9:01 a.m.
Eight point four seconds to play. Blue Hose with the ball. Charleston Southern up one.
The Buccaneers stayed up by one. Markus Terry passed up a better shot than Reggie Dillard took. Presbyterian head coach Gregg Nibert hoped to get the ball to DeSean Murray, which only made sense, because the Blue Hose only needed two points, not three.
And … I also know Nibert wanted to get the ball to Murray because I heard him say so on his postgame show, because I was sitting next to Eric Thacker, the host, at the time, and Gregg was on the other side. It wasn’t a major scoop. Going to Murray, who scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds (and came into the game averaging 20.8 and 7.8), would’ve polled somewhere around 90 percent among the attending at Templeton Center.
Eight point four seconds are enough time to get the job done but not without haste, and the Blue Hose fell again to Charleston Southern, which has mastered them over the years. The Buccaneers won Wednesday night’s Big South game by one, 73-72, and lead the series by 10, 16-6. Before the most recent game, CSU had beaten PC by margins of 36, 39, eight and 26 points.
One is not enough, but it’s an improvement.
The game was uncommonly tight. Neither team led by more than six until Charleston Southern took a 67-60 lead with 3:05 to play.
Presbyterian roared back and led by one, with 15.4 seconds on the clock, compliments of Dillard’s three-point play. After CSU’s Armel Potter hit a pair of free throws to give the game its final score, it was Dillard, who had scored 12 points, who took the final shot.
It was tight in every way. Charleston Southern (8-11, 4-4 Big South) shot 44.8 percent from the floor. Presbyterian (8-11, 3-5) shot 42.6 percent. The Bucs’ free-throw shooting was poor (47.4), but the three-point shooting was not. CSU hit 12 of them in 34 attempts, five (in 11 tries) by Raemond Robinson, who had only one stray free throw in three tries to score 16.
Both teams had 37 rebounds. Murray had 11 for PC, Aaron Wheeler 10 for CSU. Wheeler, a smooth senior from Morristown, Tennessee, made none of his 20 points from behind the arc. He’s 6-4 and plays taller.
Next the Blue Hose go on for a visit to UNC Asheville on Saturday and return home to face Liberty on Jan. 30.
Shortly I’m off to the local rivalry between the Red and White teams representing Clinton Middle School. It is a league game. We used to have two middle schools, but when a new high school rose, the old one was renovated to be a middle school, which, for some reason, costs an awful lot of money. This is a long way of saying that the not new, but improved, middle school fields two teams in at least football and basketball.
And this promises to be a classic.
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