By DOUG EADS
Forget about the old sports adage, ‘Feast or Famine’.
For Al Gover and the Campbellsville-Somerset University Tigers, Saturday’s game against visiting Cincinnati-Clermont was a version of ‘Famine-Feast-Famine’.
And as a result of the latter, it was Gover and the Tigers dropping another heartbreaker, falling to the visiting Cougars by a final score of 99-92 in overtime.
The culprit in this one you might ask?
As has been the case for much of the season, what did in the Tigers on Saturday was missed opportunities at the charity stripe, and costly turnovers at winning time.
CU-Somerset was 0-3 from the free throw line in the overtime period – one of those being the front end of a one and one – and the University of Cincinnati-Clermont took advantage.
The Cougars didn’t hardly miss a shot in the extra session – from the field or the free throw line for that matter – dropping CU-Somerset to 5-14 on the season with a fourth consecutive loss.
“In overtime in a close game like that, free throws are obviously very crucial, and we just didn’t make them today when it mattered,” lamented coach Al Gover immediately following the game.
“We had several turnovers today, and we had two or three in a row with just about a minute and half to go in the game,” added the Tigers head coach. “When you fail to cash in at the free throw line, and you have two or three turnovers in a row at crunch time in a close game against a quality opponent like Cincinnati-Clermont, it’s going to get you beat, and that’s exactly what happened to us today.”
For Campbellsville-Somerset to even get back in this game was impressive.
The Cougars came out of the gate and threw and landed what looked to be the proverbial knockout punch against CU-Somerset from the very outset.
Cincinnati-Clermont jumped out in front of Somerset 22-6 early on, but Gover’s crew would not go down without a fight.
TC Wright paced the way for the homestanding Tigers with 22 points, while Malik Lovan came off the CU-Somerset bench to add 18 points.
Thanks to weathering that early storm, the Tigers only trailed this one at the intermission by a score of 47-41.
Early in the second half, CU-Somerset maintained the momentum in this affair.
In fact, at about the midway point of the second frame, it was the Tigers with a nine-point lead over Cincinnati-Clermont, leading the Cougars by a 65-56 margin.
However, coach Steve Ellis and the Cougars had one final run left as well.
UCC fought back from that nine-point deficit, and actually took a 79-76 lead late in the contest, but with his club down 82-80, Lovan scored a basket on a nice move down in the paint for the Tigers, forcing the game into overtime at 82-82.
In that extra five-minute session, the Cougars played an almost flawless five minutes of basketball, hitting shot after shot, while the Tigers missed those three crucial free throws, while turning the ball over on three consecutive possessions late in the OT period.
“Right now, we just have way too many trips down the floor for whatever reason, we’re just not focused and ready to execute and get the job done,” Gover stated.
“I mean you’re up eight or nine points in the game with about eight minutes to go – you keep that lead by guarding and rebounding– and we lost focus at that juncture, and we didn’t do either of those things very well in that stretch coming down to the end of the game,” added the CU-Somerset coach.
Besides Wright and Lovan, CU-Somerset put three other players in double figures in the loss.
Jalen Howard had 17 points, Antwan Hurt added 12 points, and AJ Thomas netted 10 points for the Tigers.
For the University of Cincinnati-Clermont, the Cougars were led by Kort Justice who tallied a game-high 26 points, while John Aicholtz added 23 points, Clay Spivey tallied 19 points, and David Hunter had 18 points.
The Tigers – 5-14 on the season – will return to action this coming weekend, playing a pair of games at Great Lakes Christian College up in Lansing, Michigan.
CU-Somerset’s next home game is on Friday, February 14th at 7:30 p.m. against Grace Christian College at Somerset Christian School.
Admission to the game is free.