Wow, wow, wow, wow!
I really can't think of anything to type besides that.
I sat down to watch the game with my boys, tape in the VCR, remote in hand (I like to tape the games without the commercials, although I am not sure why because I almost never watch the games again, but I guess it gives me something to do). The first half went okay, Pops looked fine, not hampered by the knee injury, scoring GW's first four points on a dunk and two free throws. UNC-Wilmington looked very sharp though, running their offense without any disruption from GW's trapping pressure. The guards, Goldsberry and Carter, were especially impressive as they consistently found high-percentage shots for themselves and their teammates. The teams traded leads and went in at halftime tied at 36. It looked like a push at this point, sort of like a boxing match in the fifth round where both fighters have landed punches, but neither has hurt the other. I thought that the scoring pace favored GW, but the Seahawks were coping quite ably and GW's leading scorer Danilo Pinnock had three fouls and no points.
Halftime was bathtime for the boys; they got in and out of the tub in record time, and we were back in front of the TV for the second half start. UNCW jumped out quickly as Carter scored five points in the first minute, prompting a GW timeout. My younger son sensed the rising tension in the room and headed down to the basement playroom to watch the World Baseball Classic. The timeout didn't help and the lead grew steadily over the next few minutes. By this time, my older son had taken control of the remote, so I had nothing to do but sit and feel the heat rising to my face and ears as the Colonials slipped further behind.
This felt worse than the Temple game the week before. The stakes were higher. No, this felt like the Super Bowl in 1984, when the Raiders ran roughshod all over the Redskins. I remember being so angry I punched my little brother. He was 10, I was 16. Nice big brother, huh? I hope he has forgiven me. We've never discussed it because we are male and Irish, but I think he'd understand; he's a pretty big Redskins fan, too.
When the lead reached 17, CBS switched us over to the Xavier-Gonzaga game, where the Musketeers were looking to pull the 14-3 upset. As Xavier extended their lead, my son and I watched the time and score update in the upper lefthand corner of the screen. UNCW 64, GW 46, 11:12, it looked like game over. Then the GW point total leapt upward almost faster than the clock ticked down. My son recited each change as it appeared onscreen, "64-49, Dad ... 64-52, Dad ..." his voice rising in volume and pitch until CBS took us back at the eight minute mark with GW trailing 64-61. The Colonials stretched the run to 19-0 and took the lead with seven minutes to play.
It's hard to say if I was angry that CBS switched away from the game. In hindsight, I am furious that I didn't get to see the comeback, but at the time, I didn't feel like I could watch anymore. I suppose if I were like my friend the New York Giants fan, I would believe that GW would have lost if CBS had not switched away, but I just can't calculate the required jinx-reversal matrices. CBS did show a quick highlight package of the GW baskets that comprised the run, which will have to suffice.
Now, I was happy. I didn't care if they won or not, I was just happy that they had fought back. I had seen this happen from the other side in 1996, when GW took a big lead on Iowa, only to watch it melt away as Jess Settles led the Hawkeyes back into the game and on to victory. Even when Carl Elliott missed the third free throw to take the lead in the closing seconds of regulation, I felt okay. And when the cameras caught the GW players smiling and laughing as they came out for the overtime, I felt even better. Overtime was not a cakewalk; GW fell behind by four before Pinnock hit a clutch three and Omar Williams gave the Colonials the lead for good. When the doc called to let me know she was on her way home, I answered the phone, "Overtime! GW up by two, 25 seconds left in overtime!" By the time she walked through the door, the Colonials had put the game away, it was bedtime for the kids, and time for me to take the dog for a nice, long, soothing walk in the cool night air.