Bethune-Cookman endures travel nightmare getting to Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) When Bethune-Cookman agreed to travel cross country to face Washington as part of its non-conference schedule, it was supposed to be an easy non-stop flight from Atlanta to Seattle.

That was before Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was crippled by a power outage on Sunday that left the Wildcats stranded and scrambling to get their team to the Pacific Northwest.

The majority of the Wildcats roster did not land in Seattle until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, less than 4 hours before tipoff, according to school spokesman Nolan Alexander. The team watched film and had a meal together before heading across town to play the Huskies.

After an impressive effort in the first half, the Wildcats wilted in the second half due to sloppy play and fatigue. Bethune-Cookman was outscored 63-19 in the second half and Washington rolled to a 106-55 win.

”I thought our guys tried to compete in the first half,” Bethune-Cookman coach Ryan Ridder said. ”Obviously we had some factors going against us with the travel. I thought we had a game plan the first half and we executed it. Unfortunately we just let it unravel in the second half.”

It was a three-day stretch no team or coach could prepare for.

Ridder, a couple of players and some staff were able to get to Seattle on Monday night. But the rest of the Wildcats roster bounced their way across the country. They left Atlanta on Monday night and overnighted in Nashville. After catching a Tuesday morning flight to Denver, the group endured another delay before finally making their connection to Seattle.

Ridder said the split of traveling groups made it very challenging to prepare for Washington.

”I don’t think you ever plan to deal with something like that,” Ridder said. ”Give our administration and staff (credit). We found a way to get here even if it was 4 hours before we made it. We found a way to get out here which was important.”

Bethune-Cookman almost avoided the crazy travel headache. The Wildcats were scheduled on a 1:08 p.m. flight on Sunday from Atlanta; Georgia Power said a fire in an underground electrical facility caused a sudden power outage around 1 p.m. Sunday.

After spending most of Sunday at the airport – passing the time by singing with other stranded passengers – the Wildcats found lodging in Atlanta. They returned at 4 a.m. Monday to play the waiting game of trying to get on flights West and eventually the entire traveling party got out of Atlanta on Monday.

The Wildcats are in the midst of a four-game, three-state trip. The Wildcats bused to the first two games of the trip at South Florida last Thursday and last Saturday’s game at Kennesaw State. Bethune-Cookman has one more bus trip to finish off the road trip – from Seattle to Pullman, Washington for Friday’s game with Washington State.