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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rivier, Daniel Webster hoop teams enjoy midnight madness battle

Tom King

Daris Cosby sat in the interview room in Rivier University’s Muldoon Fitness Center, spoke of the game just ended and shook his head.

“What a crazy game,” he said after his Daniel Webster College Eagles had survived a 79-75 overtime thriller against Rivier University. ...

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Daris Cosby sat in the interview room in Rivier University’s Muldoon Fitness Center, spoke of the game just ended and shook his head.

“What a crazy game,” he said after his Daniel Webster College Eagles had survived a 79-75 overtime thriller against Rivier University.

Madness. At midnight. Actually, when Cosby made his remarks, it was about 2:30 Friday morning.

Yes, the second installment of Midnight Madness between the Rivier and DWC men’s basketball teams did not disappoint. If you weren’t there, you missed one of the best area sporting events of the year.

It was, as Cosby said, “crazy.”

It looked like it would be a yawner after the first half, which the Eagles had dominated to the tune of 41-23. But as is usually the case in a lot of college games, especially a rivalry game, the game got tight. Riv made not one but two second half runs at the Eagles.

But with Riv throwing the ball down the floor with 2.2 seconds left in regulation and trailing 68-66, Cosby intercepted the ball. He threw it up in the air figuring the game was over, only to have the ball hit the ventilation equipment attached to the ceiling.

Only thing, there was still a fraction of a second – half a second to be exact – remaining. Oops. Riv’s Kywane Thomas, a sophomore out of Hartford, Conn., converted an ally-oop and the game went to overtime. It’s possible the Muldoon, a place where 10 people can sound like 100, has never been louder with a sellout crowd of about 500 on hand. Now that’s madness.

What if the Eagles had lost?

“I wouldn’t have been able to sleep for days,” Cosby said. “Not for days.”

The Eagles, however, have a player from Oakland, Calif., 6-5 junior Eric Webster, and he is multi-talented. He had a scintillating first half until leg cramps in the humid gym – the constant condensation on the floor was just part of the game’s charm, if you will – hampered him in the second half. He took over in overtime (nine of his team-high 26 points) and that was that.

“It was very, very loud, very live,” Webster said. “This was the first time I’ve played a Midnight Madness game and I felt it. Every bit of it. Just adjusting to the sleep patterns, getting your body ready to play at midnight, as far as game preparation.

“Things got crazy, we just got together, we just talked, and went out there and made it happen together. I expected (overtime). They were capitalizing on all our mistakes. It was a push-and-pull thing, and they were pulling a little bit harder. And their crowd was right behind them, giving them a lot of momentum.

“This was my first time at Riv. I only heard about it, how loud it is. Our side, their side, just the crowd in general was just so loud. If you weren’t focused, it was throwing you off.”

The idea behind this midnight game is to generate interest in a game that had lost some luster since the Eagles moved to a different conference. In fact, the teams went three years without playing each other until two years ago. Then Riv coach Dave Morissette brought up the idea to DWC coach Dave Faucher during a 2012 phone conversation and a tradition was born.

Even the losing team had fun.

“It was unbelieveable, it was loud, you couldn’t hear any play calls, couldn’t hear yourself think,” Riv senior Tom Poitras, who led the Raiders with 26 points, said. “It was close there. It was fun. Wish we won, but it was good.”

The Muldoon certainly added to the game’s charm.

“It’s always great, always great to play here,” said Cosby, noting he’s 2-0 at the Muldoon in his career now. “Loud, of course we had some floor issues. But we just fought. We fought as a team through adversity. We earned this win.”

Last year’s game, won by Riv 68-62, was the maiden midnight voyage and was tremendous. This year?

“The atmosphere was crazier,” Cosby said. “Crazier. Their (the Raiders’) fans are nuts. They’re way more nuts than ours. They love their Rivier (University) team. But I’m just glad we won. That’s it.”

Can’t wait for Midnight Madness Part III.

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).