A wild Friday: Game of the year, upset of the year and Siena falls to Niagara
Game of the year to date
Did you miss it? Nine days after Pitt had its coaches assaulted by flying foreign objects and lost by 19 in Morgantown, the Panthers got revenge. Pittsburgh 98, West Virginia 95 in not one, not two, three overtimes.
In case you missed all the drama at the Peterson Events Center, know this: West Virginia led by seven with less than 50 seconds to go in regulation. Who’s to say West Virginia doesn’t make its free throws if Brad Wanamaker is correctly called out of bounds? There was plenty of time left for Pitt to make a run for overtime, regardless. And here I thought it was going to be an a low-key weekend.
For all of the Mountaineers fans who want to complain about the missed call, let me just say: karma. Here’s video of the final six minutes.
Yes, the official missed the call. Still, Pittsburgh outscored WVU 9-2 final 43 seconds. The ‘Eers went 2 for 5 at the foul line and 0 for 1 from the floor, while Pitt was 3 for 3 from the floor. Those stats and trends are always damning evidence.
First overtime: Ashton Gibbs, one of the most reliable men in the country at the charity stripe, missed a free throw to seal a win. One the loose ball, Pittsburgh allows Darryl Bryant to dribble up the floor uncontested. He hits a 3 to tie it at 78 and send us to more free basketball.
Second overtime: On the final possession, Brad Wanamaker couldn’t hit a tough runner, Gary McGhee missed a put-back and Woodall let fly a fall-away rainbow shot that dropped nothing-but-net. Pitt fans went crazy. Again, only problem: He didn’t release it in time. Shades of Eric Devendorf.
Third overtime: WVU was terrible on the defensive glass. After a few lead changes, Gilbert Brown hits two free throws with 25 seconds to go to give Pitt a 96-95 lead. On WVU’s next possession, Devan Ebanks, who will not do squat in the NBA, misses a fall-away. Gibbs gets fouled on the ensuing rebound and hits two free throws to give the Panthers a three-point lead. The game was over after Bryant was overeager in trying to tie the game that he actually stepped in too close and badly missed a two-point shot, when WVU needed a 3.
The win locks up a tournament bid for Pittsburgh. West Virginia can say goodbye to dreams of getting a 2-seed. A quality game that remained in doubt through each overtime. The Mountaineers had it won in regulation but let it get away. They stopped playing with passion, really. Officiating was again a problem, but I don’t think it marred this one.
Palestra is witness to upset of the year
Way to undercut my big Cornell-Princeton preview, Quakers. Penn is terrible, after all. It was a 17-point underdog in its own building.The Quakers’ three previous wins came against opponents with a combined record of 15-55.
In smartie social circles, Penn 79, Cornell 64 is a score and a game that will live on in infamy.
But that building in Philadelphia has some magic to it. We saw more a little more history made, as the Quakers pulled quite an unthinkable upset tonight over the favorites to win the Ivy League.
In smartie social circles, Penn 79, Cornell 64 is a score and a game that will live on in infamy — even more so if Cornell manages to rebound from this game and win the Ivy/go on to the NCAA tournament.
So it’s a great memory for Penn and one the players and coaches will bathe in for the rest of the season, even if this team doesn’t win another game. As for Cornell, no doubt about it: at-large hopes are officially kapoof with this loss for the Andy Bernards.
Now the focus is directly on nothing but winning the Ivy. Big Red would be two games behind the 8 ball with a loss tonight in Jersey. Wow.
In Niagara, Saints fall
The third result that’s a bit under the radar this morning was Siena getting felled by the Purple Eagles. The nation’s longest winning streak — which was 15 games long and strong — ended last night, as the Purple Eagles emphatically dispatched Siena, 87-74. For the second straight season, Niagara won over the Saints on its home floor.
The Niagara matchup was a game many around the MAAC thought the Saints would be vulnerable in. The loss didn’t come as a surprise to me, at least.
A few self-proclaimed bracketlogists (hey, I’m one as well) don’t think the Saints have any wiggle room left. For those folks, they think Siena has to win out or say hello to the NIT.
Butler is a top-50 RPI team. An opportunity banging on the front door.
But I don’t think Siena’s at-large hopes are dashed at all. Now, it doesn’t help Siena’s case that it allowed Niagara to go on a 24-3 run en route to a humbling defeat, but one conference loss does not an NIT team make.
Niagara-Siena has turned into quite the good rivalry, really. What hurts is that Siena has a strength of schedule that’s ranked 123rd overall, even though it has an RPI in the high 30s and is still an impressive 21-5 overall with a 14-1 conference record.
This team has seven road wins. Some clubs that claim to be at-large worthy don’t have three, let alone a half-dozen or more. The crucial game is next week’s BracketBusters tilt on the road at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Butler. The Bulldogs have just about locked up a tournament berth, so all the pressure lies on Siena in that one. If it loses, then the bubble is certainly popped. Butler is a top-50 RPI team. An opportunity banging on the front door.
A win over Butler, and Siena, which gets the MAAC tournament in its building (Times-Union Arena) would probably have to reach the conference finals, at minimum, to be on the better side of the bubble.