Just an awful way to lose a really hard fought game. Completely wasted possession at the end of the second overtime, but this thing should have been won in regulation. Four straight missed free throws from our guards threw it away then.
Can't fault the team for its effort, though. Without Harangody for the second straight game, our reserves showed why they should have been playing all year. Carleton Scott earned the minutes he took from Peoples, Mike Broghammer was tough as nails on both ends of the floor, and Jack Cooley picked up 5 rebounds before fouling out.
The officiating left much to be desired, as Samardo Samuels single-handedly fouled out four (almost five, with Abromaitis) of our players. While a lot of the whistles tonight were bad calls, I also have to think that guys like Broghammer and Cooley would have benefitted from more experience in their post defense.
Tory Jackson was a real leader on the floor tonight, but just couldn't get it done at the end. His shot selection in clutch time was a bit frustrating and he missed a pair of free throws in the final minutes of regulation, however. For the game, he shot very well (6-11) for 19 points and had 7 assists while playing all 50 minutes.
Ben Hansbrough was the culprit of missed freebies with just over a minute left. Other than that, he was a perfect 10 for 10 from the line, though his shooting touch failed to carry over to the rest of the contest. His three-point attempts, including a couple K-Mac-esque 25 footers, were frequently off the mark and he turned the ball as many times as he had assists (3). He did chip in with 8 boards, as the Irish were able to maintain an even rebounding total with the home team.
Carleton Scott played 34 minutes. That's a career-high (though helped by the overtimes). 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks. Coach Brey finally realized that he deserved more of a look than Peoples and he delivered. The open three he sank to put the Irish up late in the second half was a clutch shot. You expect that from our veteran guys, but it was nice to see someone who has struggled mightily with his scoring step in at a critical moment.
Tim Abromaitis finished with 29 points and 5 rebounds, his second straight big performance with Gody out. Hats off to the Alumni Hall resident once again. He very nearly fouled out, like four of his teammates, but was able to finish the contest while playing 45 minutes.
Ty Nash did foul out. Just 4 points and 4 boards in 28 minutes for him. Though he struggled, it was a bit of a mixed blessing, because I really liked what we saw from the reserves tonight. It's unlikely that they would have gotten as much playing time with him in the whole contest.
Off the bench, Mike Broghammer really stuck out for me. More than what he did in the stat sheet, he hustled all game and created opportunities with his energy. His bone-crushing screens were great to watch and the energy he displayed on defense has been missing from this team for a long time. Jack Cooley also played very well in the paint. His 5 rebounds in just 19 minutes tied for third on the team.
The commentators loved to talk about those two guys stepping up tonight after not playing all year, but the real story is how the Irish have been coached into a seven-man box when there is some talent on the bench. Neither Brogs nor Cooley is anything near starting material, of course, but you can't tell me that a few minutes for one of the two would be a worse scenario than leaving a bunch of tired started in all day. Joey Brooks should be taking a lot of Jonathan Peoples' minutes, as well. This should be happening regardless of an injury or foul trouble. Credit Coach Brey for having these guys tested enough in practice to be able to contribute in a pinch, but they should be getting more game-experience than this.
Tough, tough loss. They really deserved to win this one. Hopefully we can get Harangody back soon and continue to make things difficult for some Tournament teams down the road.