We played well for the first ten minutes or so. We moved the ball, played good defense, and built a 9 point lead. Unfortunately, we got absolutely nothing from the bench. When we switched to a zone, Florida lit us up, and we couldn't get a rebound when they missed. Offensively, we slowed the game down and couldn't get any decent shots.
It's bad enough that we got no points or rebounds from our bench, but we also went over 20 minutes without making a single jump shot from outside the paint. It seems like our hottest players always end up in foul trouble. Cooper had a great first half, but then had to come out of the game 4 minutes into the second half with four fouls. Riley Norris also played much of the game with 4 fouls.
Despite the poor shooting and lack of help from the bench, the starters did a remarkable job of keeping us within shouting distance for most of the game. Levi was able to get to the line and go 11 of 11 while scoring 15. Jimmie had another great game with 15 points, Coop got 13 despite the foul trouble and Retin was solid with 10, while Riley made a couple of 3s and scored 8 points.
There were 2 key plays in the second half that put us away. First, with around 10 minutes remaining, we had cut the lead to 3 but then had an awful offensive possession where we couldn't get a shot off. Florida made a 3 at the other end, we turned it over, and the Gators drained another 3, so within a minute their lead was back to 9 after we had spent the last 3 or 4 minutes chipping away to get it back to within one possession.
We had one more run in us, and were down 7 with 3 minutes to play when Coop scored and should have got the "and 1" on a blocking foul. The free throw could have cut the lead to 4. Instead, the official called Coop for a charge, which was also his 5th foul. Predictably, Florida nailed another 3 at the other end, and the lead was back to double-digits. It was horrendous call, and I would have liked to have seen Coach Grant argue it a little more adamantly, especially once it became obvious that it cost us any chance of winning the game.
With the loss, our championship aspirations are finally, officially extinguished.
Up next, selection Sunday. The NIT Selection show will air Sunday at 7:30 pm on ESPNU. Most bracketoligist had us in the 3 to 5 seed range before today.