First full night of the NBA All-Star break and the games mostly did not disappoint
Fans braved snow and a good dosage of the puffy white flakes in basketball crazy communities like Valparaiso, Indiana and Riverdale, New York on Friday night.
Not to be outdone, but Kent State and Toledo kept playing and playing–even with the game clock being frozen for over 22 seconds (it amounted to a four-minute media time out since the revised clock eventually showed 3:56 that remained to be played in the first half).
Of the 15 gamest that were played, seven of them were decided by six points or less. Kent State survived on the road, 76-75 in overtime to stake claim to the top spot in the Mid-American Conference. Meanwhile, in the Horizon League, Valparaiso created a sizeable distance late in the second half to upend Wisconsin-Green Bay 63-59. Valpo retains its’ lead in the Horizon League (23-4 overall, 10-2 in Horizon League play).
In the Ivy League, Harvard continues to win. This time, they survived a serious challenge from the aqua blue clad squad from Columbia. A late bucket by Wesley Saunders with 2.9 seconds to go lifted the Crimson from a major upset. Even though the Lions shot 53 percent for the game, Harvard made the plays when it mattered the most.
Harvard remains tied with Yale at 6-1 in conference play. Please keep in mind that the Ivy League is the only conference not to hold a post-season tournament. Whichever teams has the better record will earn the automatic bid to the Big Dance. If there is a tie, both schools would have to play an extra game to determine their automatic bid.
Finally in the MAAC, late night hoops a plenty for the green clad fans of the Manhattan Jaspers. Iona pulled out a last second win at the free-throw line by a 70-67 score. The Gaels shot 52.2 percent for the game, 61.1 percent from three-point range going 11 for 18 on the night.
A.J. English and Schadrac Casimir scored 22 points apiece and David Laury made two free throws with 7.5 seconds to ice the game.
English broke a tie with a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left but Manhattan’s Emmy Andujar was fouled trying to secure a rebound on a putback attempt. His pair of free throws cut the lead to one. Laury was then fouled before the inbounds pass to increase the lead back up to three before Manhattan raced back upcourt and immediately called time out.
With 4.9 seconds seconds left, they slowly worked the ball near their bench and under heavy pressure, Zane Waterman’s long, contested 3 from the left wing failed to draw iron. Iona kept the ball in play along the right baseline as the buzzer sounded.
Emmy Andujar led the Jaspers on the night with 17 points, while close behind his teammate Ashton Pankey scored 16 for the Jaspers (12-12 overall, 9-6 in MAAC play).
The Gaels appear to be headed to yet another NCAA Tournament, with their 20th win on the season in 26 games. Iona is 13-2 in league play with a very healthy RPI of 58 overall, 47 in non-conference play.
Good night, and please continue to stay warm and let’s cuddle virtually speaking as there will be a whopping 135 games on Saturday.
I hope to highlight the games which will have the biggest impact on who may be left in and which teams may be left out come 30 days from now.