Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How Old Dominion’s mascot delayed Monday’s CAA title game

Old Dominion's mascot has probably done his last LeBron James imitation for a while.
Before tipoff of Monday night's Colonial Athletic Association title game between Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth, Monarchs mascot "Big Blue" did a LeBron-esque powder toss underneath one of the baskets. Unfortunately, the baby powder on the court created a slick enough surface that referees stopped play after VCU's Ed Nixon slipped on a layup attempt in the opening two minutes and careened into a baseline sign board.

Everyone from ball boys to suit-and-tie-clad tournament officials spent nearly 10 minutes wiping that portion of the floor with mops and hand towels. Only after referees and players from both teams tested the floor did play finally resume.

VCU coach Shaka Smart was still incensed after his team's 70-65 loss by the "five-point swing" he believed Nixon's botched layup caused. Since referees didn't stop play until after the sequence was over, Old Dominion capitalized on Nixon's fall with a transition 3-pointer from guard Ben Finney.
That was just the beginning of what turned out to be a rough night for Nixon. Old Dominion's Frank Hassell leveled Nixon with an unintentional elbow to the mouth as the burly 6-foot-9 big man tried to clear space in the paint after coming down with a defensive rebound.
Hassell's elbow might have decapitated most of us. Nixon instead got stitches and returned to score five points in 14 second-half minutes.
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