Women's Basketball | Gone in 100 seconds
Tufts on losing end of roller-coaster Sweet 16 finish
Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 08:03
0:21; St. Thomas 48, Tufts 47
With 21 seconds left, the Jumbos had a variety of options at their disposal. They could have gone for a quick try — guaranteeing a second chance if they missed by fouling immediately thereafter — or they could have held for the last shot, leaving it all up to one do-or-die moment. In the huddle, coach Carla Berube decided on the latter.
“We were going to run the play with 12 seconds to go … dagger,” Morehead said.
“The plan was to get it in to Kelsey and have her dribble it around for a little bit and set up the play to get me the ball on the right side to attack,” Barnosky said. “The goal was don’t take a jump shot unless I was really open, and just try to attack and either get a good layup or get to the line.”
As played resumed, Morehead came off a screen from Barnosky at the top of the key and received the ball from Moynihan near half court. But just as Morehead began to square herself up to the basket to begin the play, the referee whistled to halt the action. The explanation: the clock had started slowly.
“It started a little slow,” Morehead said. “It said 19 [seconds] when it should have said 17.”
It was not the first time the scorer’s table had made an error that night, but it would prove to be the costliest of their blunders; the Jumbos were forced to inbound again, and the two seconds that had run off the clock before the referee’s whistle were not added back on.
0:19; St. Thomas 48, Tufts 47
The Jumbos chose to run the exact same play again — but this time, the Tommies were ready.
“The problem was that because we had just run that play, they all knew it was coming,” Morehead said. “So my girl was cheating over the screen too far to defend the far pass and [Kate’s] girl was defending the area where I came out open, so even when I was out there it made it really hard to get a pass in to me.”
Morehead once again came off of a Barnosky screen, but this time a defender was close on her heels. Moynihan knew the pass was dangerous from the moment it left her hands.
“I think I threw it too close to Kelsey, and the girl knew it was coming,” Moynihan said. “If I’d thrown it farther Kelsey could have chased it down, but this girl got her hand on it.”
It was junior Kellie Ring, the Tommies’ leader in steals, who was able to do just enough to take the ball away. While the play involved some physicality, Tufts quickly dismissed the possibility that a foul had been committed.
“I feel like refs aren’t going to make that kind of call at that point in the game,” Morehead said.
“There’s always some contact,” Barnosky added.
Ring had all of her momentum heading towards the far basket, while Morehead was flat-footed at midcourt. But the freshman was able to recover, catching up to Ring and fouling her before she could put away the easy layup.
“I wasn’t ready for the game to end,” Morehead said. “All I could think of was to not let her score. They missed their last two free throws, [so I] might as well keep the chance alive.”
Ring hit both, but it was still a one-possession game.
0:15; St. Thomas 50, Tufts 47
What happened next is not completely clear; Barnosky described it as “a blur.” Morehead brought the ball up to half court quickly, but then confusion set in.
“My assumption was that I was going to bring it to half court and that [coach] was going to call a timeout,” Morehead said. “But then nobody made a call. So I passed it to [Kate].”
Some of the Jumbos thought they were once again running ‘dagger,’ while Barnosky was simply looking for an open shot.
“[Coach] was screaming ‘run it’ for the last five seconds because she thought we were on the same page, but we weren’t,” Moynihan said. “It was loud in there, so it was really hard to hear what she was saying.”
“I ended up with the ball at the top of the key, and I knew we needed a three,” Barnosky added. “I wasn’t sure if we had a timeout, but I kind of figured we did. It was chaos. We didn’t really know what to do. We didn’t have a play set up.”
While the team felt confused at the time, the Jumbos agreed that Berube’s decision not to use a timeout was likely the right one.
“If we called timeout, I feel like their defense was just going to get set up to defend the perimeter,” Morehead said. “So maybe in a sense it was the smarter idea to not call a timeout.”
With the seconds ticking away and Barnosky unable to find an open look, she eventually passed the ball on to Moynihan. But Moynihan had no time or separation, and her final desperation try was tipped, falling well short of the basket as the buzzer sounded.
“I was looking for Liz, since she was probably our best three-point option out there,” Barnosky said. “She wasn’t really open, so I was kind of looking for myself. I couldn’t find anything so I eventually got it to her. I knew I wasn’t giving it to her in a good spot, but there was nothing really we could do. Nothing was really open.”
A hard-fought contest like the one against St. Thomas is undoubtedly one of the toughest ways to end a season. But looking back, the players remain proud of what they accomplished — for the year, and on Friday night.
“Nothing is easy, but I am glad we didn’t get blown out,” Kornegay said. “The fact that we brought it so close and fought hard, it’s much easier to take a loss that way. We didn’t give up. That’s not us.”