As I was telling my News Writing class earlier this morning, one of the advantages of being a journalist in this day and time is that you can be your own publisher.
That’s what I’m doing today, as I’m re-posting the story I wrote last night for The Charlotte Observer on the Queens-St. Andrews Presbyterian College basketball game. This is the original copy – a much shorter version made the paper and the Observer website this morning. (Another advantage of having your own cyberspace – you hardly ever run out of room!)
As noted in the story, it’s Queens’ 10th straight victory. And it’s quite a turnaround for a team that won 13 games last season and just seven the season before that. It’s been four years since the Royals went to the NCAA Division II tournament, but this team has the potential to put Queens back there. As the story notes, however, there’s a big game against the other undefeated team in conference play on Saturday, when Limestone visits.
Queens coach Wes Long doesn’t deny its importance but he puts it in perspective.
“It’s on Jan. 22, not Feb. 22,” he said. “The team that loses is still OK, but the team that wins isn’t free and clear yet, either.”
Anyway, last night’s game was a fun uptempo affair, producing more points in the first half than Florida and Auburn did in their entire game last night (45-40 Florida victory). Here’s the story:
The winning streak is now at 10, Queens’ best in men’s basketball in nearly 10 seasons.
But the Royals’ shooting star, senior guard Reggie Hopkins, says the players don’t feel any differently about the season now than they did when they were 1-4 back in November.
“We’ve always thought this team could be pretty good,” said Hopkins, who scored a game-high 28 points in Queens’ 97-83 victory over St. Andrews Presbyterian College on Thursday night in a Conference Carolinas game at Ovens Gym.
“Every game is hard, and we try to play every game like it’s a championship game. We go at each other pretty hard in practice, so if it’s a tough game, it’s what we’re used to.”
Brent Evans added 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for the Royals (11-4, 7-0) who face their biggest challenge of the season at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. They host Limestone, the only other undefeated team in conference play.
The Royals’ haven’t had a winning streak this long since the 2002-2003 team, which went to the Division II FInal Four and had winning streaks of 10 and 12 along the way.
But to keep the current streak alive, these Royals had to fight off the high-scoring Knights (7-8, 4-4), who average 83 points a game, best in the conference. They were coming off a 136-point performance in an overtime victory against Pfeiffer.
“This could have been a trap game for us,” Queens coach Wes Long said. “They can score from all five positions, which you don’t see a lot of teams do. But we were prepared.”
Marvin Jackson scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half for St. Andrews, which gave the Royals all they could handle in the 20 minutes.
The Royals closed the first half on a 9-2 run, led by Hopkins and junior guard Daniel Bailey, who scored 16 points and pulled down 6 rebounds. That gave Queens a 51-42 lead at the break.
And they got the first five points of the second half on a Hopkins three-pointer and a baseline jump shot by Evans, and St. Andrews couldn’t get within six points after that.
“They got past us more than I would like to see,” Long said. “But we did a good job on their jump shooters, and I think our offensive maturity took a big step in the second half. We shared the ball and took great shots.”
The Royals shot 51 percent from the field for the game.
Antonio Stabler scored in double figures for Queens with 11 points. Aaron Christian added 15 points and Keith Davis 13 for St. Andrews.