First written on Stupid Sideline Reporters.
The ball is tipped, and there you are….oops, sorry, that’s for later.
Live from the Alamodome in San Antonio comes the Final Four of the inaugural Battle of the Losers tournament. Here are the matchups for tonight:
(4) UConn (West) vs. (11) Kentucky (South)
(7) Gonzaga (Midwest) vs. (8) Indiana (East)
Let’s get to the results! And this time I will not give the result until the end of the recaps.
(4) UConn vs. (11) Kentucky
It was a start and stop game to begin as the Huskies got Kentucky into foul trouble early and often, and by the 9:50 point of the first half with Kentucky leading 17-10, UConn was in the bonus. However Billy Gillespie’s side was in control, leading most of the way and avoiding foul trouble in the latter stages of the half. Their 35-29 halftime lead was aided by Joe Crawford’s impressive 14 points to lead all scorers.
UConn played much better in the 2nd half, but they would constantly draw to within 1 or tie, never taking the lead and giving Kentucky several chances to pull away. Then came a key stretch in the ball game, after a Ramon Harris tip in gave Kentucky a 50-42 lead with 10:09 left in the game, the Huskies rattled off 10 of the next 12 points scored (the 2 for Kentucky came from Harris), tying it at 52-52 with 6:08 left.
Kentucky once again was in foul trouble, although they took AJ Price out for much of the game, UConn still had Jeff Adrien and Craig Austrie as players they just could not stop. The score would remain 52-52 for the almost 3:00 before UConn’s incredible offensive possession, grabbing 3 offensive rebounds, 2 from Hasheem Thabeet. An AJ Stewart foul on Doug Wiggins meant the Huskies would shoot free throws the rest of the night, and Wiggins his 1-2 on the 1 and 1 to give UConn their first lead of the game since it was 5-4.
Joe Crawford roared back for Kentucky, scoring on the pull up to end a scoreless drought of almost 4:00. But Wiggins came right back and drained a three for UConn to take back the lead at 56-54 with 3:17 to go in this tremendous game. Crawford would not be denied, he came back and buried a three to give Kentucky the lead right back at 57-56. Stanley Robinson hit 2 free throws for the Huskies with 2:39, Perry Stevenson now had 4 fouls, and the Huskies up 58-57. The phenomenal run of Joe Crawford continued, nailing the bank shot to give Kentucky the lead again.
Another foul by Kentucky, that was their 9th team foul, and Jerome Dyson hit the front end of the 1 and 1 before missing the 2nd to tie it up at 59-59. Perry Stevenson, still in the game, received a beautiful pass from Derrick Jasper and put the ball in from 3 ft and Kentucky was back up by 2 with 1:38. Ensuing possession, Jerome Dyson misses his shot but Robinson is there for the follow and we’re tied at 61-61!
A huge turn of events came when Joe Crawford threw the ball away with under a minute left to give UConn another chance to take the lead. AJ Price, who had a quiet day, was fouled, putting UConn in the double bonus and in the process fouling out Perry Stevenson. The sharp free throw shooter nailed both and the Huskies were back up 63-61.
Here we go again, it’s Crawford for 3 and Kentucky leads with :31 left! 64-63 and UConn was on the ropes. The game turned again when Crawford was whistled for his 4th foul of the game, and Jeff Adrien calmly hit both free throws with :21 left and UConn was up 65-64.
Who is going to shoot it? Last chance for Kentucky…it’s MARK COURYYYYY!!! NO!!! Adrien the rebounds and it is over!!!!! UConn wins!!! 65-64.
(7) Gonzaga vs. (8) Indiana
The first half was almost a no contest, Matt Bouldin and Jeremy Pargo were ripping apart the lifeless Indiana defense, and at the closing stages were up 44-26. But Indiana would not fall over and proceeded to score 8 unanswered to close the cap to 44-34 at the half.
The run would continue for the Hoosiers in the 2nd half by scoring the first 7, not only making it a 15-0 run by IU, but a 44-41 game just like that. Back game Gonzaga though, going on a 15-6 run and now they were up 59-47 with 12:07 left in the game. Back and forth, trading basket for basket, neither team would miss. Indiana seemed to be running out of time though, down 75-67 with 6:28 to go. DJ White had something to say about that, scoring the next 4 to add to his terrific game, going 7-11 from the field for 19 points, 3rd overall in scoring next to Matt Bouldin (24 pts) and Eric Gordon (28 pts), who redeemed himself after a rather mediocre last 2 games. Then came another huge play, as Steven Gray buried a three to put the Bulldogs back up by 7. Lance Stemler responded for Indiana with a three of his own, AJ Ratliff cut the gap to two on his scoop shot, and DJ White finished the 7-0 run with a thunderous dunk to tie it up at 78-78 with 4:10 to go.
In the final moments of this terrific match, with the score tied at 83-83, Indiana’s run and hopes of coming back from 18 to finally take the lead for the first time since it was 3-2 were dashed. The daggers put into Hoosier fans and players alike by back to back three pointers by Steven Gray and David Pendergraft gave Gonzaga an 89-83 lead with a little over 1:00 to play, and they never looked back, they pulled away for the 98-91 win.
The BOTL Championship is set up, as well as the 3rd place game.
(8) Indiana vs. (11) Kentucky - 3rd place game
(4) UConn vs. (7) Gonzaga - Title Game
This tournament will be completed tomorrow evening and of course a “Best of” tournament feature.