Missed free throws nearly led to UR’s demise in its season opening game against the Plattsburgh State Cardinals. Instead, a missed free throw led to the win.
With just under 30 seconds remaining and the Yellow Jackets down, 68-67, junior guard John DiBartolomeo drove to the basket looking to give UR the lead. His layup was off the mark but he was fouled on the play, sending the preseason All-American to the free throw strike.
DiBartolomeo drained the first of his free throws to tie the score, 68-68, but his second hit off the back of the rim.
UR senior sixth man and center Marcus “Slim” Williams swallowed the missed attempt and put it back for an easy two with 15 seconds left, giving UR a two-point lead they would not relinquish.
On Plattsburgh’s ensuing possession, the Cardinals failed to score on a layup, and, after securing an offensive rebound, a three-pointer.
After the failed three pointer, UR recovered possession of the ball. That’s when bedlam broke loose and UR’s student section erupted.
A Cardinal player was called for an “over-the-back” foul, sending UR, who was in the double bonus, to the free throw line.
Plattsburgh head coach Tom Curle disliked the call and let the refs know how he felt.
Curle was called for a double technical foul, was ejected from the game, and was forced to leave the Palestra’s exit doors just in front of the home team’s ear-piercing student section.
UR sealed the win by hitting four of six free throws, making the final score 74-68 and placing the ’Jackets in the championship of the Chuck Resler Tournament against Keystone College, slated to be played at 8pm tonight (Keystone won its semi-final match-up against Ursinus, 95-78.) Plattsburgh will take on Ursinus in the consolation game at 3pm.
The contest proved to be a thriller of two evenly matched teams. The first half ended with UR leading 36-35.
But the ’Jackets had countless opportunities to pull away and take the good for lead, yet they failed to do so.
The story of this game for UR was missed opportunities, missed opportunities that really all points to free throws.
The ’Jackets shot 60% (18-30) from the line, which nearly caused them to lose. I’m sure their free throw shooting was discussed in the locker room following the game, as one of the most common basketball adages is how converting free throw chances is the key to winning.
This axiom was especially true last night in a game where UR was in the bonus with 12 minutes left in the second half.
Expect the ’Jackets to rebound at the line in tonight’s game against Keystone: the 2010-2011 ’Jackets shot a crisp .757 (407-538) from the free throw line, so I’m confident this was an outlier of a game as far as UR’s free throw shooting goes.
With the win, the ’Jackets improve to 1-0, 0-0 UAA while Plattsburgh falls to 1-1, 0-0 SUNYAC.
Here is UR’s stat line from last night’s triumph:
- DiBartolomeo: 22 points (7-10 from the field, 8-11 from the line), 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals
- Sophomore guard/forward Nate Vernon: 14 points (5-5 from the field, 4-4 from the three-point line)
- Senior forward Nate Novosel: 11 points
- Senior guard/forward Chip Dende: 11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
- Williams: 9 points, 4 rebounds
- Junior center Rob Reid: 7 points, 8 rebounds