March Madness dashed

Trevor McNaboe

Dreams of making the big dance were cut short after Georgia Southern University men’s basketball team made a semi-final run in the Southern Conference tournament.

The Eagles came in as the seventh seed out of eleven overall, after a 6-10 conference record and would face off against Furman University in the opening round of the tournament.

The theme of the tournament was guard play for the Eagles and against the Paladins, redshirt junior Jelani Hewitt came out with 20 points on 8-14 shooting from the field while also recording a game-high five assists and eight rebounds for the Eagles as they downed Furman 65-50.

GSU would advance to the quarterfinals against the No. 2-seeded University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Mocs and once again guard play was dominant for the Eagles as senior guard Tre Bussey led the way with 17 points and a game-high three assists for the Eagles.

The Eagles finally were able to pull out a win by the score of 62-55 against the Mocs and advance to the conference semi-finals for the first time in the last three seasons.

Fatigue showed in the Eagles semi-final game, as it was the third straight day of competition. GSU looked outmatched against a fresher Wofford College team.

Shooting was the problem for the Eagles as they shot 27 percent in the first half netting them only 20 points compared to the Terriers 33 points off shooting 43 percent.

The Eagles made a valiant effort in the second half improving their shot selection, however whenever GSU would make a run Wofford would answer back, ending the chance for a conference title appearance with a final score of 71-57.

The loss closes the books on three of the Eagles starters due for graduation: guards Brian Holmes, Bussy and forward Marvin Baynham. The trio combined for a total of 30.6 points per game this season along with almost a third of the teams combined rebounds.

Next season GSU will be thrown into a new conference, the Sun Belt Conference, where they will play opponents similar to those they faced this season: Georgia State University and Appalachian State University.

What GSU did especially during the conference tournament is only a taste of what can happen in the future, and the scary part about it is that next year’s team will have the tools to be even better than this one.

The return of three-time All SoCon forward Eric Ferguson off a redshirt year, along with transfer forward Trent Wiedeman from College of Charleston will provide added depth and experience to complement forward Angel Matias, forward Kyle Doyle, and guards Hewitt and Curtis Diamond.

The 2013-2014 season is over and in the books in a bittersweet way, but the prospect of next year should keep fans excited and hopeful.