Day one at the CBI was full of fun. We saw a team get their first-ever postseason win, a guy drop 25 and nine boards, a record-setting point guard, and a new division one member pick up their first postseason win at the D1 level.
Game One: Stetson vs. Bowling Green
This was not a game for lovers of offense. Despite only shooting 31% from the floor, Bowling Green carried a sizable lead for most of the game. Trey Diggs was leading the way for the Eagles with his 13 points. He was the only Eagle with double digits.
Then with 6:42 left in the game, down 50-38, Stetson woke up. Bigs Mahamadou Diawara and Gabriel Wuor scored six straight and the Hatters were only down six with 4:53 to go.
Rob Perry and Diawara would score four more points to cut the lead all the way down to two. Bowling Green would finally snap the 10-0 run by hitting a jumper to go back up four.
Perry would nail to free throws, and the lead was back down to two. Up until this point, Stetson had been awful from three point range. They were 1-18 from deep with 30 seconds left in the game. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Stetson is going to hit a big three to win the game, aren’t they?” and you’d be right in that assumption.
Perry would nail a corner three with 28 seconds left to give the Hatters a 53-52 lead. Bowling Green would miss two chances to win the game and the final score would be 53-52.
This was the first postseason win in Stetson history since moving up to division one in 1971.
Game Two: Bryant vs. Coastal Carolina
This one had a lot more offense than the first game, let’s just say that.
This game was the DeVante’ Jones show. No doubt about it. The Sun Belt Player Of The Year dropped 25 on 10-14 shooting, and had nine rebounds.
The Chanticleers led for all but 11 seconds of this game. Bryant didn’t play poorly, the Chants were just that hot.
The Bulldogs scored 82 points, which, if they played in the first game, would’ve meant they would’ve won by 29. Instead, they played Coastal and lost by 11.
What makes this performance by CCU even more astounding is that they had 20 turnovers (six more than Bryant) and still won handily.
Coastal Carolina would win 93-82 in a game that I wish was the semifinal or the final.
Game Three: Longwood vs. Pepperdine
You want a fun, stat sheet stuffing player? Look no further than this game right here. Let me introduce you to Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross. Ross became the first player in D1 men’s basketball history with 2,200 points, 800 assists, and 400 rebounds with his layup in the first half.
Longwood started this game super hot, jumping out to an 8-0 run. Then the Waves woke up and quickly took a 14-10 lead. After that, we had great back and forth basketball, with Longwood holding a one-point advantage heading into the locker room at the half.
Then the Waves opened the flood gates. They quickly jumped out to a nine-point lead and would not give that lead up for the rest of the game as they would win 80-66.
Game Four: Army vs. Bellarmine
Personally, this game was the whole reason I made the trip to Daytona. Army was playing in their first postseason since 2016 and they were looking for their first postseason win since 1970.
Bellarmine is in their first division one season, and played well above expectations finishing second in the A-Sun.
It was a battle of Black Knights and Knights. The Knights of Bellarmine jumped out to an 8-0 lead before Army’s Lonnie Grayson scored their first points of the night.
Army, though playing rather sloppy, would quickly battle back, knotting things up at 19-19 with 8:26 to play in the first half.
Army took the lead with 3:47 to go in the half and proceeded to go on a big run to take a nine-point lead into halftime. All but one Black Knight that touched the court in the first half scored. By the end of the night, everyone had at least two points.
This game was a tale of two halves, however.
Bellarmine started the second half hot and rode it all the way to a 27-8 run to take a 57-48 lead with 12:42 left in the game. Everything that could’ve gone wrong for the Black Knights did go wrong. Open threes weren’t falling, layups were being missed, and sloppy turnovers were taking place.
Bellarmine would go on to win 77-67, outscoring Army 46-27 in the second half.
It was a heartbreaking end to a really fun season that saw the Black Knights finish above .500 for the first time since 2015-16 season.
Day Two Preview
Coastal Carolina vs. Stetson
I’m not going to lie; this game could get ugly. I don’t see a world where the Hatters keep this remotely close. Coastal Carolina has too much offensive firepower for them not to win this game by 15+ points.
A much more intriguing matchup would’ve been if Bryant and Coastal met in this round instead of the first round, but hey… I didn’t make the bracket.
Pepperdine vs. Bellarmine
This one should be fun. The D1 newbies vs. the stat sheet stuffer. I’m going to give the edge to the Waves just based off of what I saw last night. Bellarmine didn’t play particularly well; Army just beat themselves, whereas Pepperdine played amazing team basketball in the second half en route to their 14 point win over Longwood.