Bryant cashes NCAA ticket, but melee mars celebration
Peter Kiss poured in 34 points in Bryant romp in NEC title game (File Photo)
By KEVIN McNAMARA
It was a wild, crazy and more than a bit unfortunate evening at the Chace Center Tuesday but when a bizarre night ended the Bryant Bulldogs were Northeast Conference champions for the first time ever.
Next stop: the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs jumped all over the Seahawks on the way to a 38-12 halftime lead and the game was basically over. Bryant never looked back in a 70-43 romp. Wagner didn’t show up on offense with just 5-of-24 shooting in the opening 20 minutes and the game fell out of hand quickly.
Peter Kiss (34 points) did whatever he wanted all night, hitting fall-away 3-pointers, swooping in for driving layups and also preening a bit too much for the national television audience. Charles Pride added 13 points and 17 rebounds for Bryant which led by as many as 36 points.
“I knew we were prepared to play,’ said coach Jared Grasso. “Our defensive game plan was good and we got out and ran when we got stops. We did that at a high level today.”
How sharp were the Bulldogs? “We played at the highest level we’ve played all year,” Grasso said. “Our guys wanted this badly. Peter Kiss went to another level. He’s the Player of the Year, he’s the best player in the league.”
However this historic win will be remembered by many for all the wrong reasons. With 4:37 remaining, the game came to an abrupt halt as fans of both teams behind the Wagner bench began fighting. Within seconds the scene deteriorated quickly as security rushed to the stands and Bryant students and Wagner fans (who were sitting amidst each other) began tossing punches and throwing projectiles at one another.
The game was halted for nearly a half hour as Wagner’s fans were escorted out of the gym for their safety. The two teams left the court as order was restored and there was some doubt whether the Seahawks would come back and play the final 4:37. There was also talk of clearing the entire gym of all fans but Grasso was not in favor of that at all.
“The game should’ve been finished,” Grasso said. “We wanted to finish this game with fans in the stands and we’re happy we were able to do that.”
Bryant’s next stop is the NCAA’s. The NEC champ has been a 16 seed for the last eight NCAA Tournaments so the Bulldogs are likely headed to the First Four in Dayton next week.