But that was the backdrop when the South Dakota Coyotes came calling on the Milwaukee Panthers on Thursday night and improved their record to 7-4 with a hard-earned 92-91 victory in double overtime.
Trailing 91-90 with 5.6 seconds in the second overtime, South Dakota inbounded the ball under its own basket to guard Tre Burnette at the top of the key. With space to work his defender, Burnette dribbled into the paint and lofted a floater from eight feet that landed softly in the bottom of the net to put the Coyotes ahead, 92-91. Burnette then composed himself and got a piece of a three-quarter court shot by Milwaukee’s JayQuan McCloud to foil any chance of a Milwaukee miracle and seal the victory for the Coyotes.
“Obviously, this is a tough one to swallow,” said Milwaukee Coach Rob Jeter. “But you have to give credit to South Dakota. They established their game, their style of play early. They frustrated us. We were never able to use our size to our advantage.”
Milwaukee appeared to have won the game at the end of the first overtime session when Panthers guard Akeem Springs corralled an offensive rebound and converted a shot from close range as the final seconds ticked off.
But after a video review and lengthy deliberation, the referees determined that an inadvertent whistle blown before Springs’ put-back negated his basket and sent the game into a second overtime.
Asked about the referees’ decision to wipe away the Springs’ basket in his postgame press conference, Jeter pondered the question before answering. “I’m pausing because I’m not sure what I can,” he said. “Maybe I shouldn’t say anything. It was an unfortunate play.”
Matt Tiby, Milwaukee’s do-everything big who would score his 1,000 point in a Panthers uniform in the first overtime session, scored on a crafty drive deep into the second overtime to put the Panthers ahead 91-90. Keeping an available time out in his pocket, Coyotes Coach Craig Smith had his team rush the ball into its frontcourt. A midrange jumper was off mark and the rebound fell into the hands of Tiby.
As South Dakota defenders swarmed him and before he could call a time out, Tiby fell to the ground with the ball and was whistled for travelling. That gave possession back to the Coyotes and set the stage for Burnette’s herorics.
“I made a costly mistake,” said a dejected Tiby. “I lost my balance and tried to call a time out, but none of the referees heard me. It’s all on me right now.”
But after watching Tiby establish career highs with 31 points and 17 rebounds, Jeter was not about to let Tiby take the blame for the loss.
“I will not allow him to put the blame for this loss on himself,” said Jeter. “Come on! He went for 31 and 17 and only one turnover, and that was the travelling call at the end of the game. I’ve been around this game long enough to know that sometimes stuff happens, and that (travelling call) happened.”
A junior college transfer who entered Milwaukee for his sophomore season and has started every game he’s played for the Panthers, Tiby can score from all three levels and is a match-up nightmare for most fours in the Horizon League.
Given space from distance, Tiby knocks down the long-distance shot and entered the game with an impressive .406 shooting percentage from behind the arc. He especially likes establishing a presence at the elbow for pick-and-pop and catch-and-shoot opportunities from mid-range.
Given a lane to drive the ball, Tiby can put it on the deck and score at the rim. At a solidly built 230 pounds, Tiby can give and accept punishment in the paint and like most good scorers, knows how to get to the free throw line. He went to the free throw line 14 times against the Coyotes and made 13 shots. On his drive to score late in the second overtime that give Milwaukee a one-point lead, Tiby had to contort his body to avoid a charge while making an off balanced shot.
Winners at Minnesota on December 5, South Dakota used a combination of crisp passing, good shot selection and stingy defense to race out to a 38-27 half time lead.
When these two teams matched up in Vermillion, South Dakota last season, Coyotes guard Casey Kasperbauer scored 23 points to lead South Dakota to a comfortable 84-60 victory. A slightly built 6-1 guard with a young face who is more comfortable playing off the ball, Kasperbauer had a quiet first half on Thursday taking only four shots and scoring five points at the intermission.
South Dakota coach Craig Smith starts a small line-up with only one player over 6-5 among his starting five. But he brings 6-10 Tyler Hagedorn and 6-9 Dan Jech, both freshmen, off the bench as his first two substitutes and both players helped the Coyotes extend their lead in the first half.
Jech is a lean combination forward with long arms and stooped shoulders that will remind old school basketball fans of former North Carolina and Philadelphia 76er forward Bobby Jones. He played pick-and-roll games to perfection twice rolling smartly out of screens for catches and mostly unchallenged finishes at the rim. Jech also has a face up game and stepped behind the arc at the left wing to make a three-point shot. He finished the first half with a team-leading nine points in only eight minutes of court time.
Hagadorn put his all-around game on display after intermission. Finishing with a team-high 17 points, Hagadorn scored from all three areas and also converted five of six free throws. He saved perhaps his most clutch play for late in the first overtime when he connected on a pull-up jump shot going to his left from 18 feet with a Milwaukee defender in his grill.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for South Dakota players Tre Burnette and Shy McClelland. Both players played their high school ball in the state of Wisconsin with Burnette attending Madison Memorial High School and McClelland playing at Northwest Secondary High School in Milwaukee.
With a win over a Horizon League team in the books, South Dakota continues a three-game road trip on December 19 when it travels to Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini. Milwaukee, already owner of a win over Big Ten rival Wisconsin, will try to improve to 2-0 against Big Ten foes when it plays next at Minnesota on December 23.
This article was written by Tom Osowski, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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