Man... what a wild night in the Big South with four really great games. This was definitely a night where you needed the TV, laptop, and iPad all going at once to keep track of all the incredible basketball.
Winthrop Escapes Death Valley
I can only imagine the exhale that Pat Kelsey had when the final horn finally went off at Clemson Monday night. The last minute of the game was one of those ones that dragged on for what seemed to be thirty minutes full of official reviews and even a flagrant foul. In the end though Winthrop was able to escape with a huge early win for Kelsey's squad 77-74 over the ACC foe. Winthrop flashed a lot more depth than their opening game against Pfeiffer this past weekend lead by Keon Johnson off the bench with 19 points and 3 assists. Three other Eagles finished in double-figures including Andre Smith (16 pts), Keon Moore (18 pts), and Derrick Harvey (10 pts). Although the Eagles only shot 38.7% from the floor they were 20-for-25 from the free throw line, which helped grab a huge win early for one of the Big South favorites.
Liberty Grabs Big Home Win
Liberty cruised to victory last Friday over non-Division I crosstown rival Randolph but no one really stood out for the Flames. That changed tonight as Tomasz Gielo dominated for Liberty with 23 points and 10 rebounds in a 61-55 home win over a rebuilding Delaware squad. Fans had to be nervous in the Vines Center when Liberty let a nine point lead with about nine minutes away totally evaporate but a 5-for-6 performance from the free throw line from Gielo in the last minute sealed the deal. Joe Retic was the only other Flame in double figures with 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Ron Curry Breaks Radford's Heart
The Radford Highlanders started out there year agains two quality in-state opponents in Richmond and James Madison but without the services of Ya Ya Anderson. Tonight's game in Harrisonburg was just about as close as it gets and Radford showed a ton of perseverance in tightening up a late nine point deficit in the second half. Taj Owens made one of two free throws with 2:11 left to tie the game at 71 and it would be the last time either team would score until the five second mark when Mike Jones' got a heartbreaking blow. Ron Curry nailed a three pointer off a Yohanny Dalembert feed that allowed JMU to escape with a 74-71 victory. Javonte Green was once again the man for Radford with his second double-double of the year with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Gardner-Webb Dominates Charleston
Gardner-Webb gave LSU everything they could handle Saturday but came up with a loss. The Bulldogs once again hit the road tonight and flat out dominated the Charleston Cougars 77-65. Tyrell Nelson and Jerome Hill both grabbed double-doubles with a combined 37 points and 24 rebounds. Jarvis Davis also had another tremendous outing dropping 22 points on the Cougars. Thus far Davis has looked like the conference's most improved player. Tyler Strange also had his typical outing with 9 points and 8 assists. GWU will now get their shot at Clemson in the Virgin Islands on Friday.
Charleston Southern Grounds Flying Fleet
Charleston Southern took something on tonight called the Erskine Flying Fleet and there wasn't much to see as the Bucs cruised to a 92-50 win. Barclay Radebaugh got 13 different players in the game lead by Will Saunders with 17 points off the bench. Paul Gombwer posted his first double-double of the season scoring 16 points while grabbing 10 boards. CSU now prepares for a showdown against Wright State this weekend.