Friday, December 21, 2007

Packed House

As you've already seen from our live mobile blogs below, the BasketCases had an abrupt change in plans yesterday and decided that we simply had to be there in person for the conclusion of the Kristi Toliver Love Boat cruise. But we didn't come to that decision until early in the afternoon, so it was a mad dash from Washington, DC to Harrisonburg, VA (a trip of about 135 miles). Or rather, a bit of a long crawl, as I-66, even well before rush hour, was a veritable parking lot. But we made it to the JMU Convocation Center, affectionately known locally as the Convo, with time to spare. The Convo is an ancient arena (no Jumbotron!), built at a time when architects thought that women never had to go to the bathroom. You know those kinds of places . . . four toilets.

And that was indeed a challenge last night, as five thousand people turned out for KT's homecoming, packing the Convo to the rafters. (The crowd was the fourth largest in JMU history.) When the Terps were introduced, KT got a huge ovation, with many of the JMU fans rising to their feet. The students, of course, behaved rudely as students everywhere do (and if you've ever been to a game at Comcast you know what we mean), yelling "Traitor" whenever KT had the ball. But they were in the minority, as we found the crowd to be quite friendly. Many of them had connections to the Toliver family. Indeed, the guy across the aisle from us told us about how his wife used to babysit for Kristi.

Unfortunately, KT drew two quick little touch fouls a mere two minutes into the game, and had to sit out most of the first half. Maryland's offense simply was not the same without her, and at halftime, the score was tied, 33-33. After the break, the Terps still could not quite get their offense going, recording 5 turnovers before finally scoring their first points of the half. Meanwhile, JMU was methodically pulling away, and managed to build a 10-point lead fairly late in the second half. The crowd, sensing an upset and hoping to extend the nation's longest home winning streak, was loud . . . and wild. But somehow, some way (as their loyal fans have seen them do before) the Terps crawled back into the game, making several critical shots and free throws when they counted most, and eked out a 71-65 win. It was truly heart-stopping there for a while, if you were a Terps fan . . . and there were several rows of us plus other sprinklings of red-shirted fans throughout the house.

Laura Harper had a BIG game for Maryland, scoring 24 points, while Marissa Coleman (19 points, 11 boards) and Crystal Langhorne (11 and 11), each had a double double. An unusually nervous (and after those early fouls, somewhat frustrated) homecoming queen, Kristi Toliver, finished with a below-average 8 points but an impressive 7 assists in limited minutes.

We want to give a big shout out to JMU Coach Kenny Brooks and his staff, who very kindly offered Coach B (and she accepted) the use of a rolling office chair much like the one she's been using at home games. This proved not only important to her physical comfort last night, but was of great assistance as the creative officiating prompted her to leap to her feet quite often to encourage her team as well as to engage the refs in a few heart-to-heart conversations.

So the JMU streak is now history. And Maryland's modest 4 game win-streak is still alive. And a couple of BasketCases are off to their offices this morning, tired but happy.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases


At 1:33 PM, Blogger Mr. Jones said...

Thanks for this recap. It is greatly appreciated!

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Basketcases offer far better coverage than any media outlet in the DC/Maryland/VA area!! You ladies are awesome and thanks for keeping us truly informed. Your technical skills with mobile blogging are truly exceptional.


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