While many of you were spending your time watching the riveting First Four game between Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans that kicked off the 2017 NCAA Tournament, you may have missed the trio of CIT games that took place at the same time.
Tuesday, six teams were in action in the first round of the CIT. Two of the evening’s matchups produced relatively interesting affairs for viewers while one of the night’s games was a complete blowout. But hey, two out of three ain’t bad!
Canisius 74, Samford 78
This was a thrilling game throughout, and even though Samford held the lead nearly the entire night, it always felt as if the Bulldogs were on the cusp of taking the lead (and the win).
In this matchup of two solid offenses, we saw a brilliant shooting performance from Samford, who shot over 56 percent from the field. The two teams were nearly mirror images of one another, with the free throw margin being the key factor in the Bulldogs’ victory.
Samford did a good job of pounding the ball inside, which is what helped them both get the ball to Wyatt Walker — who scored 23 points — and get to the free throw line 16 times. Kassius Robertson tried to do enough to help his team keep up, scoring 24 points, but Canisius’s foul trouble kept them from getting it done.
St. Francis (PA) 78, Jacksonville 76
Jacksonville and St. Francis — squads used to giving up nearly 75 points per game — saw their poor defense carry over into the postseason.
While this game finished in exciting fashion, it seemed as if the Red Flash were going to run away with it late in the second half. With about 6:30 left in the game, St. Francis led the Dolphins 69-59. The game appeared to be over, and it was looking unlikely that Jacksonville would mount a comeback to tighten this one up.
However, a fire was lit under Jacksonville, as a team effort was mounted to bring the St. Francis lead to two with only 3:30 to go. It was suddenly anyone’s ballgame again. Nevertheless, Georgios Angelou provided the dagger with a three to give St. Francis a five-point lead with under two minutes to play.
Bench scoring was the key factor for St. Francis, as three guys came off the bench to score in double figures. Angelou, Scott Meredith, and Andre Wolford all provided a much-needed boost given that it was a rough shooting night for many St. Francis starters.
Houston Baptist 79, Campbell 98
This was the blowout. On paper, it probably should have been a much tighter game. But Houston Baptist is a bad defensive team. And really, so is Campbell. But when one of the bad defensive teams is playing against noted net-scorcher Chris Clemons, all bets are off.
Clemons did his normal thing, putting up 39 points on a Huskies defense that simply wasn’t able to stop him. He wasn’t just hitting shots from the field either. A lot of his scoring came from a myriad of trips to the free throw line, where he was 13-16.
If the Big South Tournament taught us anything, it’s that teams must be wary of Clemons and the Camels. The man is able to put up 25 points in the blink of an eye, and he can hurt you from the perimeter or at the rim. The only downside is that the Camels are essentially a team of one.
If Clemons is on, Campbell can make a deep run in the CIT. If he’s not, they’ve got no chance.