SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Gage Daye was about to come off the floor for the final time in his career. Before the Bloomfield College senior guard headed to the bench here at the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, he was congratulated by several BYU-Hawaii players for a job well done.
Daye certainly earned the recognition. He torched the Seasiders for 34 points and was the main reason the Deacons made this magical run to Springfield.
It just wasn’t enough to carry the Deacons, unranked nationally and a seventh seed out of the East Region, to another win as BYU-Hawaii came away with a 96-89 win in a national quarterfinal Wednesday night at the MassMutual Center.
“This whole ride has been amazing,” Daye said. “I’m going to miss everything about playing here, the bus rides, the team dinners, having the success we had this year. It’s tough to lose but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Daye embraced his teammates as he headed to the bench when the game was finished, and he even shared a hug with his head coach, Gerald Holmes.
“He is our best player and the hardest working guy I’ve ever coached,” Holmes said. “He exceeded all of my expectations and he is the main reason we came as far as we did this year.”
The Deacons were the first team in Central Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Conference history to reach the Elite Eight. But despite shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and despite getting double-digit performances from four players, including 15 out of Art Ellis, it wasn’t enough to knock off the Seasiders, a seventh seed out of the West Region.
Defense was the biggest problem for the Deacons, who allowed the Seasiders to shoot 60.9 percent from the field and put six players in double figures.
Still, the experience was a good one for Bloomfield and it expects to build on the success of this season.The Deacons will lose only two seniors to graduation.
‘This was a great experience,” said junior guard Ahmad Harris, who pumped in 13 points in the loss “This will motivate us to play even better next year. We know what it takes to get back here.”