Friday, December 5, 2014

FDU Doubleheader: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

TEANECK, NJ -­ A mid-week doubleheader, one that was far from the ordinary. First, the FDU women hosted 25th-ranked West Virginia. They battled admirably for 25 minutes, but could not stay the duration. FDU dropped an 80­-52 decision to the Mountaineers of the Big XII.

The nightcap saw the FDU men host Princeton in a contest ultimately approaching classic for its excitement and significance. The stat sheet tells us there was just one tie and six lead changes. Regardless, there were a number of swings in momentum that do not enter into the stat line.

Princeton led by 11 with just over 15 minutes remaining. As the four minutes to go mark approached, FDU enjoyed an 11-point advantage of their own.

The final minutes, even the last five seconds, over the course of those hectic final ticks of the clock, seven points were scored: Four free throws by FDU and a three-pointer by Princeton. The Knights held on for the 89-­85 victory.

With the 9:30 p.m. start, the game finished close to midnight. Appropriate, given the finish, that the final buzzer sounded near the bewitching hour.

FDU had its share of standouts. Matt MacDonald scored a career and game-high 29 points. Mustafaa Jones added 22 and a succession of crucial free throws in the stretch. Darius Stokes, with four rebounds and two blocks, provided a defensive lift in the paint. Then there was the crowd. Over 1,000 strong, animated, excited and taking in the atmosphere of an exciting victory.

FDU coach Greg Herenda spoke of the Knights defeating Princeton, defeating an institution renowned on and off the court. As he spoke, Herenda high-fived with virtually everyone who passed by in the hallway. Players, stat crew members, even cheerleaders making their way to the exit. He made no bones about being caught up in the emotion of the special moment. As Herenda so accurately said, “it’s a great time to be a Knight.”

The "bill of fare" in the FDU media room:
West Virginia coach Mike Carey makes a point with an official. To the left is former WVU standout and current women's basketball assistant coach Lester Rowe instructing a player:
FDU's Amanda Andrades initiates the offense:
FDU coach Pete Cinella studies the action:
Men's game official Chris Jennings, an officiating friend yours truly has had the pleasure of working with, worked the game with Jeff Plunkett and Matt Curtin:
Greg Herenda of FDU in deep thought:
FDU's Darian Anderson moving off the dribble:
Victorious FDU runs off the court as the cheerleaders acknowledge the hard-fought effort:

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