The men’s basketball team won their regular season finale in the Coliseum Monday night. The win puts them at fourth seed in their SoCon division for the SoCon tournament this weekend in Charlotte. Their first round game is Friday at 4:30 p.m. It can be heard on WPET 950 AM.
Before Monday’s game, the six men’s basketball seniors – and their families – were recognized on the court. As Ben Stywall (in visual with family) was called out, the announcer noted that he had a chance to become the first Spartan to average a double-double for the season – at least 10 points and 10 rebounds per game. Stywall went out and scored 30 points and snagged 11 rebounds in his last home game. He enters the tournament averaging 14.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Senior Mike Hardiman was once one of the Ocho. They were eight students who, as freshmen, decided to start “painting up” themselves for big basketball and soccer games. Hardiman tried out for the basketball team as a walk-on, and made the team. The first time he ever walked out onto the court wearing a UNCG jersey for warmups, his Ocho buddies were there with a mannequin stand-in beside them, wearing his new number. They’ve cheered him and the whole team each year. During the final game the other night, the Ocho and other students saw that the team had a big lead with 7 minutes to go, and they started chanting “Hardiman! Hardiman!” They wanted to see him play. One of the Ocho held up a #20 jersey. But Georgia Southern was clawing its way back into the game. They cut the lead to 10, then to 4. The Spartans prevailed in an exciting finish, 81-79. Hardiman did take the court, to cheers, after the game, as each of the seniors addressed the fans.
Mikko Koivisto was the last to speak, thanking the fans for their support. He pointed to the student section, for a special thank you. “I’m shaking,” he said.
He turned his attention forward. “See you guys in Charlotte.”