I go back and take a much closer look at the game to try to answer 3 questions:
- How did we break the game open in the first half?
- How did Marquette start the 2nd half with 17 points in 4 minutes and we can't stop them?
- How did we let a game where we were in full control (up 10 with 5 mins) to getting into a coin-flip game?
A1. We were able to turn Marquette over 5 times in that span. First, Ben Gold couldn't handle Kolek's pass; then Jones was able to tie-up the ball, and we had possession arrow; third, Lance Jones got a steal; fourth, Ross stepped out of bounds as he received the pass; fifth, Edey blocked Mitchell's shot after Mitchell drove past him and seemingly got a layup. That kept Marquette from scoring and we were able to hit 3 threes (Smith's shot clock-beater, plus he hit another off an Edey screen, and Jones was able to hit one too).
A2. At the risk of being falsely labeled a Loyer-hater, I regret to say that Loyer was a big part of it. During that span, he completely lost Kam Jones and Kam hit an open corner 3. Then Kam went backdoor on him, and Lance Jones had to rotate to help, and the ball eventually found Kolek (Lance Jones' man) who hit a corner 3 that Lance was too late to contest. Third, Loyer missed a step-back 2 on offense (which Bilas said it was a bad shot), and Kam Jones went on attacking the basket, forcing Edey to foul (Jones hit 2 FTs). Lastly, Loyer got pressured on offense and turned the ball over, and it was a pick-2. I am not even including two other situations where Loyer almost cost us (one is a weak pass on offense, which we were fortunate that TKR got the ball millisecond before the Marquette player and knocked him down, which resulted in Smith hitting an open 3; the other is Kam Jones easily beating Loyer, and if not because of TKR rotating to help it would have been an easy bucket).
But Loyer wasn't the only reason. Kam Jones scored over Edey to start the half, and Kolek drew Edey and fed Oso for an easy 2. They also got an open 3 after our made basket b/c Smith was in a bad position. That was how they got 17 points in about 4 mins.
A3. This is a bit complicated. Marquette was playing EXCELLENT defense, with BRILLIANT individual play offensively too. Our offense also got stagnant when Marquette played like they had 6 players (Bilas' description). Here's a run down:
- Up 10 points with about 5 mins left, Loyer made a poor pass to Edey which almost led to a TO, but we kept the ball, and with the shot clock down, Oso blocked Smith. Kolek made a great play to score.
- Next possession, Gillis shot an airball corner 3 while Joplin hit a 3.
- Next possession, Smith made an incredible tough 2 against the zone, but it was negated on the other end when Loyer fouled a 3-pt shooter.
- Next possession, Edey got triple-teamed, re-post, but when he kicked the ball back out Loyer couldn't handle the pass, resulting in a TO. It was fortunate that Smith made a smart foul to give us a breather, but Loyer got caught backdoor. We were fortunate that no harm was done. Then Kam Jones made a spectacular play, beating Lance Jones, drawing Edey, and then a nice pass to an open Oso for easy 2.
- Next possession, Edey hit 2 FTs on one end, but that was negated by Kolek making a great shovel pass to Oso after drawing Edey for an other bucket.
- Next possession, we just couldn't get the ball to Edey and Jones had to force a 3-pt shot, and missed. On the other end, we were fortunate to have possession arrow as Gillis forced a miss and then we were able to tie up the ball. It's basically the only time we were able to stop Marquette, and it was only a "half-stop" b/c we were fortunate to have possession arrow.
- Next possession, Smith was pressured but hang tough without turning the ball over, finding Gillis at the top but he missed a WIDE OPEN 3.On the other end is the same Kolek finding Oso for an easy 2.
- Leading by just one point now, we called TO, draw up a play but still couldn't get the ball to Edey (he had to kick it back out). It led to Smith taking a 3 with shot clock down (credit to Smith who got his defender to fly by and had a clean look), and Edey tipped it in. On the other end, Kolek had to rush a 3 and missed.
The rest are the missing front-ends and desperation 3 at the buzzer.
So it's a combination of poor play by Loyer and Gillis, and Marquette's playing out of their minds both defensively and offensively. Only Edey and Smith were able to do something positive in that last 5 mins. In hindsight, when we couldn't get the ball inside to Edey, we should try to pull him out to do more high ball screen.