Michael Layer, Sports Editor
Following the transformation of Goucher Athletics – marked by the original font and a redesigned gopher – the school showcased their new style in Saturday’s two basketball games against Susquehanna. Beneath a blue sign that reads ‘The Burrow,’ fans flaunted their ivory shirts showing the new gopher and font. Rally towels twirled in the air as the gym lights fell and a promotional video played from the two television screens fixed in the scoring table. A deep soothing voice, similar to that of women’s coach Patrick Daniel, fired up the fans. It wasn’t like this last year.
The women’s team began the afternoon in a tough spot, after several missed opportunities resulted in turnovers. Junior Briana Bull was determined to not let Susquehanna’s lead get too big as she scored 8 points in the first quarter. By the early second quarter, she and the team closed the gap to 16-17.
The heated game was further amplified, if not enhanced, by Coach Daniel’s animated passion. His courtside reactions were nearly as dynamic as the women’s on the court actions. When Goucher scored, he’d punch the air in ecstatic celebration. When the ball just wouldn’t go in, he’d lean back on one foot and raise the other in the air. When the team gives up a point, he’d hang his head as if he failed the team. His enthusiasm throughout the game focused and motivated his team to cut a significant deficit to just five points at halftime.
The second half was as entertaining as the first. Bull continued to shine as she scored two acrobatic layups to bring Goucher just two points away. The final quarter saw Goucher’s largest scoring tally. The team scored 20 and put the game at 55-57 with less than a minute to play. Bull finished the game with her second double-double of the season, leading in points with 22 and rebounds with 10. It was not enough, however as the Gophers lost 55-62.
The halftime show competition was nearly as fierce as the game. Two contestants were selected from the crowd to compete in a carnival style race. Contestants rushed to put on oversized basketball shoes, then shorts, then a jersey, race to the other end of the court, and make a layup. After scoring the winning shot, Senior Nathan Hurdle recounted, “It was a big win. I was down early and I didn’t want to count myself out… [but] I was confident in my layup abilities. All in all, a good performance [for me].” In front of a busy crowd, Hurdle collected his prize of a T-shirt and Chick-fil- a gift card.
The men’s team faced a bigger challenge as they were set to play Susquehanna, the defending Landmark Conference champions. The visiting Riverhawks, ranked 25th in the nation, were in the middle of a winning streak. They had won their past four games and scored an average of 88 points in the process. Goucher, on the other hand, was on a two game losing streak, including tough losses to Eastern and Towson University.
Before the whistle blew to start the game, Goucher stood together arm in arm. The announcer informed the crowd that Senior Chris Outing would be missing the game as he was attending the memorial service of his recently deceased mother, Shelia Outing. His teammates stood together in solidarity, bowing their heads in a moving moment of silence. The crowd rose to their feet and observed the tribute.
Once the determined team took the court and began the game, one could see how much this meant to them. Senior Tre Galloway III had a stunning performance as he finished the game with 23 points and seven rebounds. Junior Elliott Wiley also impressed by scoring 20 points and collecting eight rebounds.
The second half of the game was a thrilling contest. Despite being down 15 points, Goucher went on an impressive 28-11 run in the first 11 minutes of the second half. Galloway III rallied the crowd with three blocks, preventing Susquehanna’s fast breaks. The team’s hard work brought the deficit down to just two points with a little more than seven minutes left to play. They would end up scoring 38 points in comparison to Susquehanna’s 29 in the second half. Sadly, it was not enough as Goucher went on to lose the game 68-62.
The great performances from both teams showed a unique resilience. It was shown in Briana Bull’s high-flying layups, in Coach Daniel’s motivating passion, and in the men’s team ‘s second half heroics. Even in the half-time shows, the gopher essence showed itself. In the Outings’ family pregame tribute, the togetherness from the fans and players was inspiring. In this ‘new era’ of Goucher athletics, the gopher essence still seemed to stay the same.