For those lucky enough to be at the Qwest Center last night, the 2nd of 3 Bradley-Creighton games on the year will never be forgotten. 111-110 in double overtime but that doesn't tell the entire story of this game. There were moments - amazing moments that reminded me of why I love college hoops. Down 14 in the first half, up 17 in the 2nd, down 5 in one OT, down 6 in the 2nd, 1 point win. Wow.
The win extended streaks, gave the team momentum and put them into the post season. But it did more than that...it gave Jays' fans a thought that they might be able to win 3 games in 3 days in St. Louis after all. A Dana Altman team had never given up 100 points in game at CU before...his team gave up 110 and won! I know that sounds a little nuts because they couldn't play defense but they found a way to get it done and made plays when they had to.
Let's start with the first half. At Bradley, the Braves went up 11-0 on their way to hammering the Jays. In Omaha, behind the fans rightful booing of Daniel Ruffin every time he touched the ball, BU went up 9-0. Then came moment No. 1 - down 16-10 - Kenny Lawson came up with a huge block to start a fast break. Josh Dotzler took the outlet and threw a perfect lob to P'Allen who went up as high as I can remember him ever getting to throw it down. The best crowd of the year, decked in blue, erupted for the first time of many.
Next, we got a chance to watch Cavel Witter begin his hot streak that would end with him scoring a Qwest Center record 42. He busted down 3 different Braves with an ankle breaking cross over and dribble-drive move to the hoop. Coach Jim Les was forced to take a time out as the Jays cut their lead to 29-24. They were up 14 at one point in the first half.
On Senior night, one of them made his mark at the end of the first half with a 3 pointer at the buzzer. Nick Bahe's last second 3 was right in the middle of a 22-2 run for Jays that eventually would put them up 17. It included a T being called on Jim Les for running his mouth at the refs at which point the game looked over. 61-44 Jays. Ballgame right? Revenge for Perioa right?....but we were just beginning.
P'Allen Stinnet's Technical Foul was the turning point in this game for Bradley. After on Offensive Foul on BU, P walked past the offending Brave and said something quietly to him. The ref quickly blew the T in response. When asked why the T was called, the explanation given the bench according to a source close to the program was that P'Allen got into the face of Brave player. The problem - P didn't do that! I'm not saying he shouldn't have been T'd up....he should have but for saying something....that's not why they called it. A 17 point lead for the Jays eventually turned into a 84-84 game with 4.5 to go.
The Braves had their first of MANY chances to win the game at the end of regulation as Theron Wilson went straight at the rack. Dane Watts had his senior night moment as he stepped in to take a charge to send the game into overtime. HOWEVER! Here is an interesting thing a birdie by the scorers table told me....the first call was an offensive foul on Wilson for an elbow! That would have been 2 Ft's for the Jays! When the call was changed by one ref to a charge, the refs huddled. The end result was Dana Altman being told that there wasn't a TV monitor to look at since the game wasn't on TV so we were going to overtime. Dana didn't complain and simple said that it was the right thing to do. I would have flipped out.
The 2 OT's were just crazy. Jays down by 5 in the first, down by 6 in the 2nd....yet they won. Nick Bahe blew 2 free throws with the chance to push the lead to 3 and then had a UNREAL rebound off a Booker missed 3 to give him another shot....he didn't miss that time. How about P'Allen's deflecting of the ball off a Bradley player to get the Jays a possession to send it to double OT? Amazing moment. Amazing game....on 3 different occasions I said to myself "game over" as in - Jays lose. They just wouldn't let it happen.
Even the refs getting in the way didn't mess the game up for me. Traveling call on Bradley in a key moment (right call), traveling call on Hibma while he laid on the floor (make-up call), it felt as if the Jays were gonna get screwed in the end. Didn't happen though. Bradley had the ball with a chance to win at the end of regulation, overtime and double-overtime, but each time the Jays countered with a defensive stop. They wanted it more including Pierce Hibma's defense on Daniel Ruffin when they needed it most.
Sophomore Cavel Witter's performance was unreal and was the difference on Senior Night. He just refused to be denied, hitting big shot after big shot. 42 points overall. 32 after halftime. 18 in the overtimes plus 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 4 steals. Best performance of a college athlete I've ever seen in person.
In closing - remember this game meant NOTHING! Once Missouri St beat Indiana St. - the teams were playing for the color jersey the will wear on Friday in St. Louis. Yet, they fought it out like an NCAA tournament game. But the win, in my opinion, puts them into the NIT. 20 Wins again. 10 conference wins again. 4th place in the Valley. All huge. What a win....what a game...and we get to do it all again on Friday.
Postseason opportunities: It appears that the NCAA is considering letting the Jays play a game on Tuesday in the Qwest after St. Louis if the schedule calls for it. If the Jays get a Wednesday game however, there is talk of game in the Civic!! 9,000 fans buying first come, first serve tickets. Be on the lookout for that!