by John Delach
The following is a guest blog written by the Honorable Peter King, representative from the 2 NY congressional district. Peter King and I graduated together from St. Francis College in 1965. The NIT is providing the Terriers with a second life. They open in Richmond, VA against the Richmond Spiders on March 18.
As a graduate of St Francis College I saw my old school play their hearts out last night and just miss a miracle ending to what was already a dream season for the Terriers basketball season. Down by 10 points (57-47) with barely 4 minutes to go, St Francis waged a furious rally to close to within 2 point (62-60) with seconds to go, then be down 63-60 with 1.6 seconds left and have a 3/4 court shot hit off the rim as the buzzer went off.
This was a heartbreaking defeat. If St Francis had won, it would have been invited to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the history of the 67 year old classic. St Francis has had near misses before but as more than 1100 screaming fans crammed themselves into the 4th smallest Division 1 basketball arena on Tuesday evening, anticipation was high that this would be St Francis’ year and the 67 year drought would be ended.*
This season had been one for the ages. A tough, gritty high quality college located in Downtown Brooklyn, St Francis Basketball always had to punch above its weight. But never more than this season. Starting off 0-5, St Francis was written off before finishing off the regular season 21-10 and running away with the Northeastern. Conference Championship (15-3).
After winning its first two NEC Tournament games, St Francis just needed to defeat Robert Morris University to fulfill the long sought dream of its students, alumni and fans and play in the NCAA Tournament. The game was a classic hardnosed struggle with the lead going back and forth throughout the 1st half until the Terriers ran off 4 points in the final 20 seconds for a 35-29 halftime lead.
The 2nd half saw St Francis suffer through an 8 minute dry spell where it scored only 1 basket, fall 10 points down and make its gutsy and dramatic closing surge, only to fall short at the buzzer. The crowd which had been cheering at roaring decibel levels fell silent-the long sought prize denied once again. But as the crowd filed slowly from the undersized gym onto Remsen Street, disappointed as we were with the result, there was nothing but pride in the team which had played its heart out literally to the final second of its almost magical season.
Driving home through the rain, my classmate John Delach and I agreed that Coach Glenn Braica and his St Francis team had given us a season to remember.
*The dought ended less than a week later when SFC’s Women’s Team beat Robert Morris to become the NEC Champions. The good news; this gave The Terriers a berth in the Women’s NCAA Tournament. The bad news – they open against UCONN.