i mentioned they played back 50 years ago for the second straight year in the national junior college tournament this the first trip to the ncaa tournament for the program after being a junior college power they became an naia team in the early 70s when they became a four-year school and division two tournament back in 2000 and now division one and they hit another shot this time perez from downtown and they’re up 10 on virginia how about this oh boy less than a week after the unexpected departure of men’s head basketball coach chris holtman gardner-webb university officials announced his replacement the head coach of running the bulldogs tim craft craft is no stranger to gardner-webb having spent three seasons from 2004 to 2007 with the bulldogs when they competed in the atlantic sun conference when you talk to coaches about his abilities as it relates to x’s and o’s uh everybody you talk to is just very complimentary about some of his offensive you know philosophies and his strategies and those type of things well it’s truly an honor and a privilege to be asked to come back here to gardner-webb as as the new head basketball coach this is just a special place to to me and my family it was a great opportunity for us to get a family that was being fully invested in and who we are as an institution not just worried about the basketball program getting better but for making the university better to come back to gardner-webb and have an opportunity to be the head basketball coach is you know humbling and it’s an absolute honor and privilege and we’re going to do everything we can here on this staff and in this program to work every minute to represent this program this university in a way that’s going to make all of those that are associated with gardner-webb proud to be a running bulldog you know tim has the same ability to communicate with his players you know he has a fantastic support staff in the interview process uh he kind of stood out and um we all had confidence that he could do a good job of building on what chris had started i think we have a team that’s talented enough that’s that’s experienced enough that can compete with any team in the big south and certainly can compete to win a big south championship number one winthrop on their home floor defeats number four gardner-webb in overtime 82-77 you’re picked sixth in the big south preseason conference poll that has to be a motivating factor as we move into the start of the season yeah it’s definitely motivating um for the past uh three four years that we i’ve been here we always been picked mid-pack so it’s not a surprise to me but we’re just going to just continue to work and grow as a team and we’ll see where we end up i remember specifically having conversations with people that were close to the team or working in sports information and we all thought that was extremely low especially with the talent we were bringing back there was a lot of hype around jose being a three-star recruit coming in as a freshman and feeling like this kid’s gonna make a big difference if you’re gonna put us that low you can really surprise a lot of people but i don’t think any of us expected it to go the way that we had it go we just knew that people were really sleeping on gardner-webb that year we started getting calls from all the preseason magazines we talked in june and i shared my thoughts with what i thought would be a really good team when i said we’re going dancing this year we knew we had a chance to be really talented we returned a lot of talent from the year before a lot of experience david effione and dj laster um as our as two seniors and then another fifth year senior with brandon miller just a lot of experience with those three guys we’ve got a bunch of different pieces here if we can figure out a way to have them all play as a team i think it can be an exciting year this has been one of the better offensive

teams we’ve had since i’ve been here it’s it’s probably the best and we got a versatile roster we knew we had some really good talent and we had some really good role players if you look at the role players that were on this team eric jameson jr ends up leading the run bulldogs and scoring the year after they appear in the ncaa tournament jakeem cornwall gets all big south honorable mention the year after the tournament and then you have jose perez and nate johnson who transferred to big east schools and all these guys were considered role players because the team was focused around the two seniors of dj laster and david effioni being a fifth year senior i’ve been through a lot with uh being here at gardner-webb i’m glad i’m able to be a leader and help the younger guys i think more than anything else he’s just there’s not many things that he hasn’t seen or gone through you know personally with his uh just development as a player and kind of ups and downs he’s gone through as a player throughout his career from his freshman year to to last season you know there’s not many things that he hasn’t experienced we had dj had been in the program for four years you know i think the thing with dj is his motor’s really improved and he’s in better shape than he was last year he’s able to play harder for longer stretches and just kind of give a better effort and he really has a better feel for our coverages and what we want to do there with our system i had seen some clips of jose perez in high school and knew who he had played with and how good he was you know he’s a good player he he obviously has the ability to score but um he can bring a lot more things offensively to our team with his ability to pass the ball and you know when he’s really being a willing passer he makes our offense uh really dangerous i remember my senior year we all sat in the tucker center and uh he showed a video a youtube video of people like getting announced their name announced for the ncaa tournament and that that was just like uh man like we could do it like that was just like an eye-opener for all of us like we could be sitting here uh nine to eight months from now and really be getting our name called brandon uh dj and dave i think they did a great job of just trying to connect everybody i think i could definitely tell the difference from the year before as far as our chemistry and us connecting with each other so i would give a lot of credit to those three guys for actually taking the challenge to uh to really connect the whole team after four years of playing i just felt like each year we we had chances you know um we we fell short and it always comes down to one or two possessions every time we look back at the film and um i just for me it was just like i i didn’t want it to happen again i i wanted to to hold up that trophy i wanted to to be the first team in garden women history to be able to accomplish that we just took that leadership role and we’re able to be like um this is our senior year so we’re going to go out with the with the with the bang and we’re and we were just destined to do it and i just feel like we we weren’t going to take a note for answers so just our mindset was different what are your thoughts on getting your team out of the court for the first time officially today well just really exciting really exciting to get a new group out on the floor together we got 30 days of practice to to get our team ready and just to build our system implement our system it’s a really important time in terms of forging a togetherness with our team having guys that believe in one another and trust one another and you know that’s something that’s going to take some time and it probably won’t happen in 30 days like the way we want it but just getting better every day and trying to become the best we can be each and every day in terms of the non-conference strength of schedule it’s really tough but you know the the the deal is i think any time that your team has to do hard things you know when you put your team in a position where they have to overcome hard things it’s going to help them be a better team it’s going to help them be tougher mentally and physically and you know i think our our schedule is certainly built to do that playing on the road playing in tough environments playing against some of the best players and coaches in the country in college basketball is going to help our team grow and learn how to overcome things that are challenging and difficult and figure out a way to do that together and stay together struggled in november uh they were they lost four of their first five games the initial response as a fan is to freak out in an analyst chair a play-by-play chair you go you know you have some pieces and you’re just really trying to figure out who fits where and how this team’s going to operate throughout the season gardner-webb right back the other direction jameson once again this time a few of those

games where those losses were all formed you know we had to just come together we were making like mistakes that we know we should have we shouldn’t have made and stuff like that is going to fall to oh and two losing to vcu and virginia tech i think we had a team that is very mature that understands what this is going to do for us so i think that was the way we just didn’t get discouraged because we understood like the big picture from from playing these big time opponents in transition look at slauson blocked it lost a couple close games had some chemistry issues earlier the lead lions of the basket with the left-handed he scores played in a a neutral side event in asheville our first game was eastern illinois and we lost at the buzzer in that game it was kind of like everyone was trying to go for themselves you know trying to get their numbers you know trying to you know blow a big time kind of be that guy you just felt like um we weren’t in it emotionally and um we we met that night we had all the chairs in a circle and it was hey i want to hear from you guys like what you thought was missing and guys just started to talk and um share some of the things and and that that we were seeing as a coaching staff you know they felt as players what he said to us is like you know everyone’s going to have a role and you got to learn how to embrace your role get on the same page and that would make you know this team better we started kind of just talking about hey like this has to be uh has to be different going forward and we played unc wilmington uh that that that day was the next game and it was one of our best games of the year and we had just great emotion and great um camaraderie on the bench and guys cheering for each other and i think that was kind of a turning point for our year that kind of laid the groundwork for what was going to be really important for our team is that we were a connected group and a group that was about each other and um when we got to december things kind of flipped for us it took nine games into the season for the garden with men’s basketball team to play a game and their friendly confines at the paul porter arena jose perez a talented freshman not only hits double figures for his seventh time this season but a triple double 97 an impressive win in whole bumper saturday against savannah state i think when it just boils down to it we were just having fun things just start clicking as far as as chemistry with the players and and just the morale the locker room and all that stuff was just was just good and it was just flowing we weren’t having fun in the beginning like in november we’re having fun so we’re like come on guys let’s just start having fun let’s start playing together and then once we started playing together we saw that playing together was better and it was it was fun just to go on a streak like that you kind of get the feel of how you know everyone’s playing everyone’s on the same page you’re going with that monster like look we’re not going to fall back and you know back to early november we’re going to go out here we’re going to work as a team we’re going to communicate and get the job done three straight wins at home 95 plus points and now over 100 of two of the last three the the excitement and the energy that’s in paul porter you know really helped us a lot and then as we started to you know win games down the stretch people started getting the buzz hey these guys might this might be their year to do something special five game win streak 4-0 at home so far this year you got a tough test coming up acc opponent in georgia tech what do you tell the guys when you go play a game like that we just gotta get better got to get better tomorrow got to get better saturday i just got to keep getting better got to prepare for for a really good team you know a really good team at a slower pace is what josh would like to see johnson lighting it up from three-point range that is where the bulldogs thrive give a lot of credit to gardner-webb a great win for them they played well they’re a good basketball team they got going early and we couldn’t get any stops and that failed us we go back and forth here in the early goals and i knew this was a good team we were playing because the way they shoot the ball and i said it’s a great test for our defensive fundamentals and tonight just our defense wasn’t good 3.4 seconds add to it robin into laster before the buzzer georgia tech great win for our school good name we made some shots late perez isolated against alston that leaves johnson open great court vision to find the three-point shooter it was kind of it was kind of like you know big for me because i knew you know some players on that team back home had a lot of new york guys on their roster just you know to come out with that win it was kind of like you know proving everybody home then you know i can i can do it i can do whatever kind of where those games with vcu and

virginia tech at that 30 minute mark they kind of pulled away we made some shots and pulled away from them obviously we’re able to beat george attack on the road uh which was a huge win where we were feeling you know we were really playing really really well playing together he matches his career best with 25 and gardner-webb has come into an acc arena and they’ll head home to boiling springs north carolina with a 79-69 victory [Applause] dave friedman who does radio for winthrop actually did play by play for espn3 for that game and came down in to one of our practices the week before and watched us play or watched us practice for the first time and was aghast this is a really good basketball team i think you might have a chance to win you know in a couple nights we’ve got we’ve got one more game you know we play at wake forest uh here before we open up big south play going in both coaches coach luther coach craft then ph as well just had like a great game plan for us we just went out there and really just executed it uh we played well we shot the ball well and we defended it he’s got three on one and he gets it to jameson let’s see if horton gets in touch here and they looked for him at the yani wow we rolled into playing uh wake forest we’re like hey like we did this once like we could do it again so like why not go do it again and we and we did it i was trying to do whatever it took to win and that was that was a really big time win and so that was uh two acc wins man which was never done in gardner-webb history fouls on wake in the second turn around in the lane left and short ford unable to hit after yanni well we shot 40 free throws in that game and normally you go on the road in a game that you’re getting a check for against an acc opponent you’re not going to get to the free throw line 40 times and we kind of dominated that game gardner-webb extends their winning straight to eight and they beat a second acc opponent in a week and a half to see our guys come out and play in in what would be considered a you know an unfriendly environment it kind of gave you calls for hope i think we felt like okay this could be this could be a special year [Applause] conference play is a completely different animal from non-conference play it’s practically like two different seasons because you can play non-conference go undefeated and then lose all your conference games and your non-conference schedule doesn’t matter it is strictly what you do in conference the old saying is if you win at home and split on the road you have a good chance of winning your conference so that whole non-conference schedule is really almost like a preseason or some exhibition games to see what you have and what kind of talent levels you have and the fact that gardner-webb had those ups and downs in non-conference play uh it got them battle tested they got them battle ready uh for the ups and downs of conference play anytime you have success the enemy of success sometimes is complacency you know that’s just human nature you know we were guarded against that and preaching that and um you know unfortunately we just didn’t play we didn’t play very well we lost a couple games early and got back to where we were just kind of struggle with some confidence again um and uh some chemistry issues it was just two different leagues man like the the scouting report is so different as far as non-conference and conference play so if i had to to pick one thing that was just probably just the factor of uh starting off so slow i was just thinking it was just adjusting to the way people were guarding us understanding like it’s going to be a lot harder now because people are going to take us a lot more serious especially after beating two sec opponents in league play everybody knows you better everybody scouts you harder the stakes are higher it’s it’s just a it’s a different level of intensity it was just a struggle you know credit their defense credit their defense i thought they were doing a good job kind of collapsing on our drives and trying to keep us out of the paint and um and and it was it was causing us problems they struggled mightily on the road and they couldn’t get it done you saw this team and how youthful they were you noticed that their the frustration was with the coaching staff as well because i think they realized that this team should be

better than what they are we got to be better on the road you know we were four and four in a non-conference on the road and um and so i felt like we got a team that can win on the road but uh for whatever reason here in league play it’s been tough and it’s been difficult and you know we just got to go in and play better so two and four you know all of a sudden you’re sitting there and you’re like whoa you know you’re you’re certainly humbled uh by that and and i think it was easy to get our team’s attention you know once once we were uh you know had that kind of rough start it took them about five six games to kind of settle in and figure that out but once they did it got fun we knew we needed to finish out the season strong and we needed to finish it out keep it keep it rolling 21-2 the last two seasons in paul porter arena still undefeated you know makes for a great atmosphere to play in front of these fans we had a big thing on protecting the home court like we just had that pride we just weren’t going to let anybody come to our house and beat us david effioni leading the way with a game-high 23 points he’s led all running bulldogs in scoring for the fourth consecutive game averaging nearly 23 points per game our guys were just terrific i think all of them were playing really well my senior year was probably the best year um as far as like the the fans and the atmosphere um it was really like a home court advantage i felt like the the crowd was behind us each and every game it was always great playing at home it was always great like people loved who you were for who you are and i just loved playing there honestly winthrop at gardner-webb for context pat kelsey is a remarkable head coach him and craft have had battle after battle after battle one and that’s in the tournament whether that’s in the regular season and gardner-webb just always struggled it you couldn’t get past it he talked so much earlier about frustration and how this team was really confusing you have all the talent in the world uh and they just weren’t getting it that’s how it seemed at the time winthrop comes into paul porter as the best three-point shooting team in the country and gardner-webb holds them to 10 of 40 from three closed out on shooters extremely well defensive rotations were excellent thankfully tonight they were 10 to 40 hopefully that had a lot to do with our defense you know proud of our guys for executing our game plan kind of when we started hit our stride a little bit guys were looking to the uh dj and dave for a lot of leadership buying into what coach craft was talking about you know kind of the things that we needed to do to win games so i think it was more of a a chemistry thing we all kind of came together you know we had all the right pieces in place and then we had some really good players too ten straight losses to this winthrop team you finally get the win how does that feel for you guys it feels really good you know it feels really good i asked craft this i say this breaks a 10 game losing streak against how does that feel and that might have been the most calm and relaxed i’ve ever seen tim craft you know we’ve had some absolute battles and wars with them over the last few years and uh i just tell you it’s really nice to come out on top uh you know with this one and you were able to get over that hurdle and break a 10-game losing streak against who a lot of people would see as the arch rival right now that’s when i realized holy cow this team is going to be special through that last month or so in the season we were we were rolling in just plain break man you’re winning these close games you’re winning these close games and what does that do it builds up confidence and you start seeing maybe this team is going to be a team of destiny because the guys know how to get it done in the clutch david effioni became the all-time division one leading scorer tonight with 19 points he’s certainly meant a lot to us i think the biggest thing about dave is he’s gotten better and better and better crouch on the drive he’s going to get to the bucket no it’s turned away david affioti and the running bulldogs come in transition jamison jr into the paint back door fine for justin jenkins what a play started by the block by david effione just having our crowd you know our fans you know cheering for us after every every highlight i guess on the defensive end office event you know everything it’s just like i don’t know it gives that that that feel that different energy that extra boost you know cornwall over the timeline rim run dj laster a two-handed flush for the senior you know our team was playing great we had really good players that year i mean we had really good players effiani to the left side wing for cornwall it’s a design given go effiani goes up and finishes the alley-oop with both hands and finally coach maybe a stat that i’ll throw at you that you were not aware of

is you guys now at least four now are the third team in the entire ncaa to go undefeated at home this season that’s one of the goals that coach craft always has coming into the season he always wants to be undefeated at home the season before the tournament uh they were 10 and two at home so you go from 10-2 to 13-0 and credit to tim craft he has always had a phenomenal home record we’ve never won 20 games in going into the tournament you know regular season and uh so to finish with 20 wins is is huge and uh to win like eight of our last 10 here heading to the tournament uh is a good thing way the tournament was structured that year was that the number one seed would host every game up until the championship game with the highest seed remaining hosting the big south championship tournament game it was a crazy year i mean it was rapper was a pre-season favorite going in they had a great start themselves i think they beat notre dame beat texas and in the non-conference play they started well in conference so you had to look at radford and think that they were gonna they were gonna pull it out and uh but you also had campbell with chris clemons you know leading scorer in the country and so you knew that they would be right there as well of course they ended up being the number one seed at the end of the year so as we kind of followed things went back and forth gardner webb early on was almost an afterthought obviously when conference comes around everybody’s locked in i went into that game knowing that it could possibly be my last game ever in a gardner-webb uniform high point was a bad matchup for us honestly they we played small that year right so rebounding was not a strength of that team we weren’t a good offensive rebounding team and we weren’t a great defensive rebounding team and high point was one of the best in our league at both and so that that was not a good matchup for us and they had just crushed us on the glass the match up prior that we had played them earlier we had a super connected group um and so we were ready to go there in the tournament and again played great in that first one and found a lot of confidence i mean we came out offensively and we’re just on a roll i just went out there event was being aggressive um shots was falling as well and then we were moving the ball well yeah they’re bigger than us but who’s going to have that dog in them just to get on the board steal up ahead great pass to empiani a nine nothing run for tim craft’s team we call it gang rebounding like it’s not just we’re not just going to depend on me rebounding rebounding we’re not going to repent on jose rebounding it’s like we’re all going in we’re all gonna make sure that that the ball is secure and we’re not just gonna let those 50 50 balls just uh go to the other team so it was a big thing on us about getting those 50 50 balls like we’re just gonna go get it like put nose down into the dirt and try to go get it much of the credit just comes to the coaches and the and the game plans that we’re going into those games just taking stuff from the games that we won and we’re like hey like we have to do this better we know what we have to do to beat these guys we know why we lost them coach’s staff did a real real great job with the scouting report so we just played the style report game and just went out there and left it all on the floor they came back late and made it close at the end a week later on selection sunday there’s three for curtis hall in the third it is an eight-point game then they closed the gap they started pressing us and we had handled real well so much more purpose these last five six minutes floats it in how about that that high point game was odd um because gardner-webb takes a massive lead in that game and it’s like okay we’re going to run away with the game and then the lead track and shrank and he got nervous and another trap in the back oh gardner-webb needs to get it across and they don’t they turn it over cameron to the basket it was like we knew what we had to do but we just had to execute it better it really got nerve-wracking boy they just fought and uh you know credit them and their coaching staff for getting those guys to just you know really kind of amp up their pressure and you know make the game close tip craft calling the play shot clock down to 13 shaheen cornwall explodes past peterson count it and one for cornwall wow tough take really tough he took the drive in there drew the contact high off the glass left-handed

wow and gardner-webb is going to escape wow and uh we were able to w so and be able to advance to the next game we’ve played in some tough environments this year and there will be none tougher than tomorrow night for sure the next night we played campbell who had won the regular season and it was packed it was all campbell fans there are hardly very few garden web fans there yet for that game it was an unbelievable environment you know every seat was full and just a big big big time college basketball atmosphere you look at gardner-webb up against campbell this is campbell’s house good for four five six points if clemens goes off it’s going to be more probably what does garner webb have to do to negate that they’ve got to survive the first five or 10 minutes because chris clemons is going to go off tonight i think at least he’s going to try to i can’t wait this is everything we want if there was a college basketball all-star game i’m pretty sure that chris clemons would be invited chris clemons comes into that game he’s top five all time in ncaa history and points forward he’s already passed danny manning larry bird and oscar robertson enroute to becoming just the ninth player to reach 3000 career points late game heroics and jaw-dropping dunks have made the campbell senior a fixture in sportscenter’s top 10. talk about being an extreme underdog not only in the tournament in terms of seating but you had all the national media against you everyone wanted to see the campbell fighting camels win the big south and go to the ncaa tournament so we could get national media attention on this little five nine guard that could just shoot the lights out of the regarding the web a little back door our guys just did a great job kind of locking into the game plan and then just playing with a ton of confidence perez again backing down the 5-9 chris clemons so obviously that was part of the game plan david effioni and uh and uh christian turner did a great job defending chris clemons and doing you know doing their best on him whitfield back to clemons clemens lights it up and lines it up and didn’t light it up that time chris clements he was a different different guy man but we start so our game plan which was stop him as much as possible guys make big shots you know they paid you know big offensive rebounds and um you know just just really good confident players believing in themselves and making plays uh for each other and again i think our connectivity you know in a hostile environment your ability to be close and connected and feel your teammates is such a big deal i remember being in foul trouble i i remember being in foul trouble most of the game um but at the same time still being locked in and encouraging jose dj and jahim and all the other key players because basketball is a team sport during that game a lot of people was in foul trouble so i had to again step up my production on the court that first half stretch first off without dave and dj out there eric really scored it brandon was kind of anchoring his own you know both of them really stepped up and um and then eric you know just kept making plays there’s no doubt clements is the star of this team but maybe he shouldn’t try to force too much right now with four minutes to go or three and a half minutes to go laster oh that might be an early dagger right there they are feeling it it’s a 10-point lead gardner-webb they’ve hit five of the last six shots and now they lead 73-63 they’re gonna call a timeout on the campbell side of the court then all sudden chris clemons he kind of took over and they actually pulled it within one and clemens still has some work to do wow judy kicks it back out to chapman and it got extremely loud they don’t want to go to the nit they want to go to the big dance unbelievable come back now the 10-point lead has been cut to one at 73-72 effioni is out with fouls we’ve been stressing just stay together and stay together so we called the timeout it was like all right we’re not gonna we’re not gonna fold we’re not gonna bend we’re gonna stay together and like keep this lead and keep keep going and we’re going to just win the game that’s what we were focused on winning the game like even though we stretch it out we wanted to win the game and effiani’s on the bench holding his breath yeah he’s sick right now poor guy he didn’t want to finish his career on the bench now he’s hoping and praying his teammates can do something for him [Applause] here’s a guy that’s been super tonight

freshman on freshman perez and perez somehow comes back and gets it and he gets an n1 and that’s toughness right there wow parents didn’t give up on it humpback up and under left hand and just battles for it and just gets it in there and then goes and does a chest bump with epiani on the bench clemens lets it go well ralph your thoughts we’ve got the upset gardner-webb’s going to the championship game for the first time we’ve been in the semi-finals since our fourth year you know my six years here and have lost some some just close knock-down drag out one possession games so to finally kind of uh you know punch through and kind of make it to the to the next the next step and get into sunday you know it’s exciting for our program it’s a great step for our program david has been my roommate um when we’re on the road for like the last four years and i just remember waking up that morning and i just uh was listening to music something about that morning i was just like man i looked at david i was like we’re about to win this game we were both telling each other talking to each other like yo this is this is our last game in the gardner-webb uniform you know what i’m saying now it’s like just put to put everything out um out there on the court we actually had like a good talk that morning and i was like dave like we’ll win this game no matter what like we’re you’re gonna bring it i’m gonna bring it we’re just gonna go out there and know no fear all confidence and just be able to play the game that we love just try to uh keep making history sunday is gonna be a big one because they beat us there uh earlier this year we just got to go in there play hard no one expected us to be like how we are this year we got chosen six now we’re in championship sunday whatever happens we’re gonna go out there play hard do what we do and hopefully become our champions i just knew i just needed to play hard i just wanted to leave my legacy on the court leave it all out there i just felt it when we were sitting down before the lineups i was just like it’s my last chance to show what i got and i just came with that mindset from the jump ball tip goes to gardner-webb i said let me get it rolling if i can get it rolling i can keep it rolling so being able to score those first few points i was like all right i’m feeling i’m feeling it for a senior to have a career high in the championship game for the conference that’s movie script stuff it’s like a movie for that guy you know his parents in the stands watching them and it’s amazing i was in the right spot at the right time and they were given to me at the right time so i just believe that that was a team effort too everybody was playing unselfish and like no way he has a role in we’re gonna keep on giving to it one time in the game me and dave go up to each other like do you think he’s gonna miss and me and they were like bro i hope not cause like like he just got it going he wasn’t missing i think um he was he was playing out of his mind after watching the tapes i remember them talking to me but like i was just so locked in i was just like i can’t remember anything about that game just besides the crowd like every time i scored like just going crazy i’m like i’m just locked in i’m just in my own zone so i was just like i don’t know it was just a different experience everything i because i i remember being with my team but the noise was all canceled i was just locked in i was in my own zone and it was it’s still i still can’t explain it what was crazy was just like he was telling me how like he just felt different out there and um that guy was with him throughout the whole game i just felt a presence as i was playing i just felt a peace have you ever had that feeling before um honestly not in the game he said he felt like there’s a presence that he felt god’s presence with him and i totally believe it he just he he was so confident uh he was so at ease with himself and and to give god the credit in in that in that in that moment was special every time radford was about to make a push or every time radford did make a push gardenwave was able to find a way to answer dj lasser was unbelievable you know have effioni and jose you know the job they were doing was just incredible for a while they couldn’t miss it was really impressive to see how they played that game i remember watching it and just screaming at the tv and you know cheering for them and it was such an incredible environment

uh and it was such a tremendous game i want to say it was about 30 seconds left and we had a 10 point lead what had happened is we got fouled they fouled us rebound perez and we had some guys start to like look into the crowd and put their hands up and like the game was over i was on fire i mean i was trying to scream everything tim got really mad like he got mad and he came out and sat next to me was oh grump ass hey dude i said i guarantee you right now the camera’s on you we’re up 10 points with 30 seconds to play i think luther came over it was like hey we’re good like let it go he said hey randy you know chill basically chill out we got we got this the game’s over so we kind of put a smile on his face because he knew at that point in time it was probably going to be ours the running bulldogs on the wrong side of heartbreak each of the last three years here in this tournament those will all be distant memories boiling sprigs forget running we’re going dancing for the first time the gardner-webb bulldogs are champions of the big south and headed to the ncaa tournament once the game was over and like you know the camera’s on you know everybody’s jumping around and he and he he was continuing to point in the sky and he was just saying god this is god this is god i didn’t really know what to do i kind of looked uh to tim and he started because he’s such a gracious guy he started to go shake mike jones’s hand by the time we got through the handshake line my three kids come running out my wife comes running out at that time it kind of started to sink in a little bit i didn’t know what to do man i didn’t know whether to jump up and down or stand still or get on the floor i don’t know but my emotions just took over man and i just started celebrating with my teammates that was pretty cool to to do and to see i still can’t explain it you know my mom was there i had some family there uh just seeing them you know run onto the court and everyone is just like going crazy it’s it’s like once in a lifetime feeling it was just huge moment for everybody just it was just incredible like it’s really really hard to put into words we finally did it it was a great feeling once that buzzer went off and was just like all the the hard work and the sweat that you that you put into the game each day it uh it came into tuition at the end of the game i’m crying like a like a five-year-old you know it was very emotional and the culmination of a lot of a lot of years of hard work and to see all those guys celebrate you get close with kids as you travel with them and get to know them all the folks involved with the program everybody’s so excited it was really neat i get a little emotional talk about it it’s hard for me to explain without becoming too emotional about it and i think that to me was was kind of where where i was in the whole thing i mean it was a tear-filled exciting time the tears and the emotion just started coming because i knew we finally reached a milestone finally gotten over the top of that mountain finally accomplished something that i never actually thought would come true not supposed to cheer on press row and i never did but i started crying and i’m not sorry for that it was a god thing it was it was it was definitely destined for us we put in that work we kept god first with everything having the coaches like remind us to keep god first and everything to our practices having bible study like being able to do that so i feel like he just rewarded us at the end of the day and uh at the end of the season and we were able to get the job done it’s unbelievable how how we were able to get it done and being able how it all played out and i just loved the experience i wouldn’t trade it for anything i think that’s when you really started getting like choked up and emotional because not just for me uh more so for the people that have been in boiling springs their whole life people have been affiliated with the school forever and maybe thought that day would never come it was like so many tears so many emotions for so many people um you know i didn’t sit there and like ball out i know a lot of people did but being able to sit there and just take it in was super cool we got into shelby and then the police

started escorting us to garden whoever like what what’s going on to be honest when we got off the bus that was awesome like when we came back from bradford and uh it was just everybody everybody just out in the parking lot in front of the gym i had videos on my phone just like just like getting off and it’s just like a crowd of people out there and it was just awesome just seeing all the support and all the signs and everything the news crews out there sir yes sir yes sir yes sir it’s hard to even describe because we came back and main street and college street were lying with flags everybody was so proud of us and um everybody was just like it just brought a whole different feeling to gardner-webb and i just love that and i i’m glad we were the first people that were able to do that and i know there will be many more but we put that stamp on being the first march madness is upon us and teams are beginning to earn their bids to the big dance this is the first time ever that the men’s basketball team here at gardner-webb has laced up their dancing shoes hi everyone i’m roy cooper north carolina’s governor i am so proud of gardner-webb and the men’s basketball team going to the ncaa tournament for the first time in history go running bulldogs the bulldogs of gardner-webb university are underdogs no more winning a championship has sent this team to the ncaa tournament hey gardner-webb i’m one of the newest members of bulldog nation but i’m also one of its biggest fans i want to congratulate the coach and the team on this wonderful run in the conference tournament congratulations on that championship you made your university and your town proud now let’s go make some noise in the big dance go dogs good old boiling springs north carolina in cleveland county has good reason to celebrate the gardner-webb bulldogs are heading to the big dance for the first time hello running bulldogs it’s your congressman patrick mchenry just want to say congratulations to you on being the first gardner-webb team ever to make it to the big dance i will be watching the tournament we’re pulling for you we’re proud and i know you’ll make cleveland county proud thanks so much god bless garner webb a liberal arts school in bowling springs north carolina will make its first ever appearance in the big dance now the peaceful school in the foothills is buzzing about basketball hello gardner-webb fans artist skillmore here and i just wanted to congratulate all of you on the success that you’ve had this year and an opportunity to participate in the nc2a tournament uh tim craft coach boy take your guys and run congratulations i think the party there is going to rage for a while it will congratulations he’ll never forget those moments his staff will never forget those moments his players will never forget those moments the school the university it’s really the power of what the ncaa tournament can provide for for schools like gardner-webb i want to draw your attention to my senatorial statement before you honoring gardner-webb university in bowling springs north carolina and congratulating them for their men’s basketball team i think it’s appropriate mr president that the entire running bulldogs team and coaching staff be recognized for their first ever win the big south conference title there there’s so many questions out there and so we really won’t know until selection sunday the big watch party will happen right here at the tucker student center let’s get on the bus there’s a whole bunch of decorations and stuff and we get to the front and it’s like red carpet oh man it was a crazy feeling seeing uh all that support that we had in our community i think that was the moment where i realized like what we just did for boiling springs [Applause] [Applause] and the craft talks about all the time that we can we can really be an example for kids in in our in our city and that was a big example right there seeing how many people came out how many people showed their support and then like we walk in and everyone on campus is just going crazy you see your classmates teachers uh staff people in the cafeteria you see them all like you can’t do nothing but you know smile and laugh you know like thank everyone you know we

had thousands of people i don’t know that the tucker center’s ever had as many people as we ever had that day i mean it was literally shoulder to shoulder in that huge hall watching the three screens to see when our name was going to be called well the team has been introduced we’ve seen the trophy we’ve seen plenty of different congratulatory messages it’s an exciting time the watch party is going to be starting soon cbs is here to get the reaction of where gardner-webb is going to play in the first round again we’ve heard columbia south carolina we’ve seen teams like duke pop up in bracketology we’ve also seen salt lake city utah against gonzaga but regardless of what happens here this evening i know the running bulldog faithful are just excited to see that logo and that name called out in the national tournament once again i’m brendan boylan live from boiling springs on the campus of gardner-webb university as you can see from the last time we went live it’s pretty crowded in here the fire code says 750 we’ll see if it gets broken here this evening now is the time where you just anxiously await the selection show to start and we’ll see if they get announced first or last we’re gonna send you around to see what’s going on here inside tucker student center welcome back to the ncaa men’s basketball championship selection show let’s now focus our attention on the upper right quadrant continue to reveal the tournament practice from the ncaa and its corporate champion coca-cola the second overall number one seed is virginia the cavaliers are going to the south region it’s the seventh time they have been a number one seed we know what happened to them last year they’ll try not to not to repeat anticipating a much longer stay in this year’s tournament for the cavaliers all right so the number one seed in the south is virginia these first and second round games will take place in columbia south carolina on friday and sunday the cavaliers are the fourth team out of the atlantic coast conference and they will meet 16th seed gardner-webb the running bulldogs out of the big salad will beat radford in the big south tournament final i think they’re up for the game they are for the game they’ve got a terrific player and david effione he’s outstanding the freshman jose perez this team worked their way through road games in the conference tournament to win the opportunity to be in the field and they are tough-minded and fun to watch congrats to the running bulldogs of gardner-webb that moment right there kind of like sends chills to my body like when i re-watch that like every time the descent shows to just sit there and then just watch our name like come up like that was that was a shift in my heart right there to see that happen and see everybody go crazy that was one of the best days of my life for sure everybody’s sitting behind us just watching wait for the name to get called everybody had the phone out it was just and once they said gardner-webb man we just erupted it was it was great the espn tournament challenge starts now eight schools 25 hours more than a thousand miles and of course the only face not on the bus is mine [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] a good morning welcome to gardner-webb university i’m here with running bulldogs head coach tim craft i don’t know if tim can hear me or not they’re on fire right now march madness is nothing like that [Applause] i don’t know whether i need coffee a beer i don’t know what i need this is unbelievable you know we put put it out there to all the students and and we what a great response and the excitement and the energy in the in the building and who would have known that it was like 5 30 in the morning you know and and the energy the enthusiasm the passion um you know it’s awesome those moments that that athletics can can bring people together and create those memories

you know that makes it so exciting it’s one team out of the league that gets to go out of the whole league that gets to go every year and um you know i just think all of our programs staffs players administration we’re all putting so much into this thing um you know to try to build a winner and try to get to this you know to get to this stage to and have a chance to you know to cut down a net and do something really special for your school it’s very exciting um past few years we’ve been very close losing the semifinals and quarterfinals but it’s just a great great experience to be here for me it was a very exciting feeling this is a dream come true to play an ncaa tournament a lot of guys don’t get a chance to play and it’s just a really everybody’s excited and happy and we’re just ready to play it has been a dream come true being here as a freshman anything can happen when we both on the court they tie their shoes the same way we do it so we just ready to play this is our first time in history doing this so we just want to leave our legacy and leave it all out on the court i trust all my teammates we’re not the biggest team but we got a lot of fight got a lot of heart so i know all my teammates will go out there and fight and give it all they have and that’s all i can ask from all my teammates and my coaches they’re going to prepare us the right way i’m just glad we have a chance to compete and just have the opportunity to just play at the highest level playing the number one seed it’s just a humbling experience to be here so us playing virginia is just going to make us better to be on the court with them we go into every game thinking we’re going to win the game no matter who the opponent is and we’re still going to put our plan together and we’re going to go out there and fight you can tell by all the shouting in the newsroom especially where the photographers hang out it was really loud that march madness has really started and the gardner-webb bulldogs are set to tip off tomorrow in columbia for the ncaa tournament yeah that’s right you know back in 1970 gardner-webb was still competing in the naia well today they took the floor here for their first ever ncaa tournament practice the running bulldogs are relishing an underdog role even though this tournament is a first the underdog role is familiar we’re certainly used to that role and you know i think our guys enjoy embracing that role we kind of took that mindset this season so sometimes that dog roll helps you play with that edge that you need tony bennett and the virginia cavaliers lacked that edge last year in charlotte becoming the first ever number one seed to lose to a 16 seed tony said he knew his team would get a lot of questions about that loss to umbc last march he urged his guys to just focus on what they can control and just respect their opponent which he says is easy to do with gardner-webb they’re good you know they beat two acc opponents on the road uh one of the acc assistants just called me said they’re very good you’ve got to be ready because they can play and of course we’re going to be ready we understand that when you get into this tournament everybody can play gardner-webb looks to become the latest cinderella when they tip off against virginia tomorrow at 3 10 p.m all right here we go defensive keys man we’ve been talking about them all week all right we’ve been talking about them all week okay got to be in a relentless stance number one all right it’s about like not breaking down and being tough enough to continue to do your job all right so we got to do a great job talking and then executing the plan and all the things that go into that plan we just got to be tough and physical and keep working man don’t stop when you get hit on a screen fight to finish okay fight to finish we’re ready to block out we know they’re going to be coming with two to three guys all right and coming hard okay go hit those guys stick them set the tone in the first four minutes all right hey at the end of the day man it’s these things right here okay it’s about being together like we’ve tried to be this entire year and absolutely going out and attacking this moment with all the confidence that you have and all the the just fun and excitement that you can have today okay go out and play loose and free go out and be us all right and be us together all right here we go let’s pray our father who art heaven hallowed be thy name thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven give us this day our daily bread forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us it is not temptation but deliver us from evil as the kingdom and the power of the lord back in columbia south carolina getting set for gardner-webb against the number one seed out of the south bracket the virginia cavaliers coach tony bennett’s team putting together another great regular season at 29-3 the winner of this game to take on oklahoma come sunday here in south carolina back here with your friends along with grant bill and tracy biggest thing they’re going to slip and run hard cuts hard moves and we may see a little more zone which is dangerous against virginia o’connell pettigrew and nelson the

officials as we get started jack salt to jump it for virginia blaster for gardner-webb and the wahoos with the first possession there just the atmosphere that gang was insane it was like an nba game when we first ran out there it was it was crazy on tv it sounded like an nba playoff game but it sounded like a home game for life it was it was unbelievable it honestly just felt like a home game for us in some ways it felt like a road game with a crowd too so being you know less than two hours gardner-webb people came out and supported them oh it was definitely a road game for us i mean you guys i i want to say the whole school must have been there it felt like that anyway um and you you were fairly close to home um and and i think everybody else in the arena um you know once you got up on us i think they started to to join you and root for the underdog here he is coming off a career high in the big south final over madford and he scores the game’s first points that energy in the building was just a i think that was more of a man we’re really here type energy blaster taking his time inside nice little up and under great footwork great finish with the left hand i think we just came out with a lot of energy um we were moving the ball well um and we were making great shots perez head fake and drive for two what a nice bite with the pump fake what an impressive young man a freshman we’re just playing well as a team passing the ball making the right cut to making the right plays you could just sense how tight we were even our fan base like there was you could cut it with a knife [Applause] nate johnson scores a transition bucket at that point you’re like jumping out of your seat holy cow are you guys really gonna make this happen replace here johnson driving up high whoa what a move i went out there and just let it fly man like coach was like look you’re gonna win or lose so just let it fly and just compete out there and be confident in what you can do it just felt like garter webb was finding their spots and i think it was a sense of playing free miller nice move fianni from the wing that’s down to three virginia had things that they did they had tendencies that they they followed and our kids took advantage of it for long stretches in that first half slip but that’s what they were going to do oh he lost it but he still had the soft touch how do things go well for him aren’t they offense is fast uh they slipped ball screens that was hard we tried to prepare as well as we could and it was we struggled and i think the nerves were there but they were banging shots and had us chasing i swear it feels like we get the best 16 every time um we go into the tournament that says something another turnover committed by virginia what a start for gardner-webb we came into this game knowing uh how capable gardner-webb was going to be and um they punched us in the mouth division two tournament back in 2000 in that division one did they hit another shot this time perez from downtown and they’re up 10 on virginia it’s crazy like the court is shaking your shake and it’s it’s a crazy like feeling it’s like you can’t explain that like you scoring all your hair like the ground is moving it’s and if that was the case and that kept going you saw what was going to happen gardner-webb is going to run away with the game right now the speed activity gardner-webb on the offensive end just gives trouble his defense there’s the same play what a job of catching it and knowing exactly where you are in relation to the cylinder that first half we we really had to shut i really had myself shook that we was even up 14 on them like that like completely had control of the game when we got that 14 point lead i’m like i’m we’re all hot yelling like we’re just ecstatic like we’re just happy that we’re doing it you think like like man like you know like we’re really about to do this like we’re about to advance we’re gonna go ahead and you know take on whoever you know we’re ready we’re hungry we’re going 15 thinking like you’re about to go up by 20 plus but then you know go back to the hotel prepare for the next team

oh boy i already knew how it was getting played out like how people are watching at home oh is this another upset my twitter feed was going crazy people were like can this happen again no can gardner-webb pull off a monumental upset the mentions coming through the account for the main account went through the roof the tweet deck notifications were just spinning like it couldn’t read anything and then the computer started humming real loud screen went black a few times we were trending it was nuts absolutely nuts they were they were trending they were the number one trending thing in the world on twitter and to think that little gardner-webb did that is still the most incredible thing everything hunter with one second go but virginia able to trim into that 14-point deficit gardner-webb 36 virginia 30. it’s the second most first-half points allowed by virginia this season i had never been so excited for a basketball game in my life when we were up at halftime to to think a 16 is going to do it again but to know this time it wasn’t a school that you had never heard of it wasn’t a school you had no affiliation with to be able to go we’re gonna do it well this is true true tv and a true score at the half virginia number one seed trailing gardner webb 36 to 30. get the coaches locker room and we’re like are you kidding me we’re up we’re beating the number one team in the country um like we did in the first half we were all getting just like the kids were what do we make of this i mean can lightning strike twice i’m not concerned yet you’re not concerned yet i’m not gonna say i don’t have time by six why wouldn’t you because they were down a lot more before that i would that what exactly yeah their caller but but now they got to realize like you know what this is real uh this is not what we got another game next week you don’t think they realize that well they’re not playing like it they didn’t come out with a sense of hurt and the running bulldogs being on them being on a roll confident about the matchup and playing great basketball in that first time i’m not taking anything okay i remember once coach craft came came in he was just he was just proud of it he’s like man we just got to keep it going keep our composure well you know we felt like we had a great half obviously uh and you know we talked about some of the things that we felt like led to us um getting stops and and led to us being able to get good shots and just kind of emphasize trying to continue to do those things i’m pretty sure they were in that locker room they had a they had probably got chewed out by the coach and they came out second half ready to play tony bennett told me coming out of half he believes that first half had a lot to do with nerves but also the fact that gardner-webb is a really good team he said their quickness is really bothering them i asked him what he told his team he said you need to have confidence you need to have the might the right mindset don’t panic but no you’re going to be in for a fight down the stretch here don’t you dare leave anything in this locker room you don’t panic but you play the right way we knew we were in for a battle and coach reminded us that we already knew that we came out the first four minutes of halftime when they it was just a shift unable to convert second chance yes that’s what jerusalem like the physicality the competitiveness from them and like it just it kind of just just shook us for a minute like this ain’t who we played the first half second half we came out and i think the nerves were gone the tension was gone um in those guys and the basket counts look at this patch though you think they’ve been through the wars we actually were able to switch and do some things um defensively where we switched and we were able to keep guys in front of us we we just made an adjustment defensively um switching and our ball screen cover i thought they made some good adjustments both offensively and defensively uh to exploit some areas that that in the you know in the beginning the first half they weren’t gardner-webb had that 14-point lead in the first half but now look who’s smiling unfortunately they they started getting that ball rolling and they were able to get a lead on us

early in the second gardner webb was not controlling the tempo they were not controlling the pace virginia was able to reel that back and a lot of that happened because of defensive stops and being able to get points and multiple consecutive defensive stops they made a couple buckets and we struggled to score and had some bad offensive possessions uh then we started to break down defensively you know we started to give stuff up that we didn’t give up in the first half we wanted to keep our same momentum but it was kind of hard to match what we did in that first half especially against a a team like that at the end of the day virginia had three or four nba guys on that roster and deandre hunter was the fourth pick of the draft you knew the talent you were playing and you knew that at some point they were going to come out and they’re going to play kudos to them that’s a that’s one of the best team i ever played in my life the guys just kept plugging and gardner-webb missed some shots maybe they got fatigued tough the difference from one half to the next they really started taking advantage of their high level size like their nba type size virginia is just the type of team like when they put you in a dry spell like it’s just gonna be a tough tough night they were really good and we knew it was only a matter of time before they you know started making some shots um and they did they did they’re a good team they made shots i don’t think it was anything that we didn’t do or anything that they did do it’s just that they made some shots and then come some of the shots that we were taking earlier weren’t going in for us they have to be proud of what they’ve accomplished this year and he’s going to shake hands over there with tony that is nice right over there how about that that is class yeah perez led the running bulldogs with 19 well you don’t see that too often do you they overcome their largest deficit of the season to win a game great effort by gardner-webb virginia advances back in a moment gardner-webb what an amazing effort in their first ncaa tournament appearance they were up as many as 14 on top seeded virginia in the first half they led at the break by six but ultimately the cavaliers just too much and too strong and they were not about to let a 16 over one upset happen to them again they win this one by a score of 71-56 but gardner-webb the little school that could they packed the place with just about everyone down from boiling springs and they left their mark on this tournament gardner-webb definitely uh gave us a formidable challenge and credit to your coaching staff and the players those guys were like i said very well prepared good program just really proud of our group proud of these guys up here and all the guys in our locker room and what they’ve done for our school for our university for our alumni our former players our community um you know this this run that that they’ve been on has uh that we’ve been on has uh you know just done so much for a lot of people in in in our area and that are associated with gardner-webb so just very thankful to to coach this group of guys to coach these three seniors and um you know just very very thankful you know we were sad that we know we lost but what we accomplished was was bigger it was way bigger it’s just good that we were able to do it for the school and uh do it for the community also and i just thank god just giving us the opportunity to play in this and just through success and failure i still give god all the glory it was still the best experience of our life win or lose we but we did it that’s what we wanted to do that season now that everything’s over you look back and you say like you tell yourself that you gave it everything that you had yeah we didn’t win that game but look look at our the history of what we just did like we just made history no matter what the outcome of that game was we talked about it like probably two weeks after like yo bro you did it like that’s what we wanted to do we wanted to go to the big dance we got there at least we we will always be remembered players especially on our level being made to lower measures they will never make it to the ncaa march madness ever i mean that’s just the reality of it when you go to a small school so i mean that was a conference in itself i’ll be able to tell my sons that one day something i’ll never forget something i could tell my kids that i just participated in makes you feel like extremely proud for what those guys were able to do he just did something that no other gardner-webb team has ever done we went toe-to-toe with the number one seed in the tournament and we gave him a run for our money and to be able to watch virginia go on win the national championship and know that you competed with the national champions

it doesn’t get any better than that you know the one memory that i would take is that you know we can accomplish our goals and we can you know we can at guarding the web keep our faith values where we want them to be and and we can and we can remain true to who we are as an institution and we can still win championships that’s the kind of story that makes march madness so special it’s always fun to see that to see somebody achieve that that hasn’t been there before and experience that so excited to follow them from a distance here and see the great things that continue to happen at that university even to this day two years later i walk in to a gym or call a coach for the first time or a kid or a family or parent member and all like yeah i remember that game you guys had them you guys were right there through all the ups and downs like that we went through it was it was really really incredible and it’s a it’s a memory that i’ll always cherish you always have to do it for the first time and this will always be our first men’s basketball championship i think what it’s done is it’s prepared people for the fact that this is going to happen again this is not going to be the last time that we’re going to be in the big dance it will happen again and when it happens again we may be on the winning side of that first round this team’s showing the spotlight on bowling springs and i don’t think it will ever fade unforgettable you know i could carry this on for the rest of my life and no one can take it from me dog you do what you want the other day but you know we’re conference champs we made history and go on the web and that’s something that no one can take from us and we take pride in that so i was actually working a softball tournament here at kennesaw state where i work and i was watching the game on my laptop while working and i just couldn’t contain my excitement i wore a garden with shirt underneath my kennesaw jacket and just ripped off the jacket and screamed as loud as possible and gardner-webb won the big south championship every single person who loves college basketball when they go off to college they want to be a part of the ncaa tournament it was just amazing like i had never had a sports experience quite like march madness with gardner-webb one of the coolest things about being there is that like we had the opportunity to preserve this moment in this school’s history i think it was really really cool that lisa and i got to go for seo to capture that story i think it really definitely meant a lot to me i was the mascot of gardner-webb for my junior and senior years and the experience of going to march madness was everything i hoped it would be and i feel like we’ve done gardner-webb very proud of all that we’ve accomplished through last year just wanted to send the congratulations to y’all on an unbelievable achievement you know y’all made history it’s crazy you always talk about leaving a legacy and y’all definitely left the legacy it’s it’s very memorable and the fact that it happened my senior year made it even more incredible that’s something that you remember for the rest of your life you guys have had an amazing season from all the guys in the past to bulldog nation we say gold bulldogs ain’t once a dog always a dog hey i appreciate y’all for making history man make some noise in that ncaa tournament y’all only got one shot let’s go congrats boys we going dancing it’s not easy being a student athlete but you guys are making history you guys getting it done i’m proud of you boys good luck in the tournament foreign

alma mater alma mater we sing our love to thee we pledge our hearts in deep devotion our dog