Pioneers Scorch Jackrabbits in Second Half Tear but Come Up Short 53-54

Denver lost on a missed foul shot by super freshman Joe Rosga with virtually no time left on the clock to end a great effort, 53-54, at the Summit League Semifinals. Rosga was tripped earlier in the waning seconds but it was a ‘non-foul’, allowing the Jackrabbits to take the lead and win the contest by the narrowest of margins.

The first five minutes of the game were played at Denver’s preferred pace, Denver (16-15) trailed by only two, 4-6, in front of 10,000 blue and yellow clad fans. Over the next five minutes, the Jacks (25-7) extended their lead to 13-6 as Denver was ice cold from the field. SDSU continued their domination on the boards with an early 8-13 advantage. SDSU continued to extend their lead to 11, 14-25, on some home-cooking officiating and cold Pio shooting. The Pioneers took the margin below 10, 19-28,  with less than 2 minutes to go on a Pemberton 3-point bomb to stay in contact. Denver closed to within 6 points, 22-28, with less than a minute to go in the half but the Jackrabbits responded with a bucket of their own. A Joe Rosga buzzer shot did not make it in time and Denver had to settle for a 22-30 score at break.

DU clearly did not play to their winning formula the first half. The Pioneers shot only 35% from the field, 22% from the arc, and were hammered on the boards 20-11. With tough defense, DU was able to stay in striking distance to make a run – and they did.

Denver caught fire after halftime.

Denver absolutely exploded in the first five minutes of the second half. The Pioneers took the lead in a blink of an eye, 32-30, with a 10-0 run to start the 2nd half. C.J. Bobbitt, Marcus Byrd (3-point shot), Jake Pemberton and a Joe Rosga bucket-and-1 hushed the hometown crowd. But the Pioneers were not done. Denver extended their lead to 38-31 on a Neff 3-point laser. A Byrd steal and Pemberton’s 3 took DU up by 8 with an 18 point run, stunning the capacity crowd. Then, Bobbitt hammered a bucket home for a 42 – 30, DU lead resulting in an incredible  20-0 run to start the second half. That was followed by a Pemberton bomb from the corner that made it 45-32. Bobbitt followed with a bucket to make it 47-32 with 10:52 minutes to go. Jake Pemberton, LetsGoDU’s most improved player, led DU in both points (16) and rebounds (9) and was a key difference maker in the run. Denver held a 10 point lead and the ball at 7:50 to go. The Pio’s maintained a 10 point lead with 5 minutes to go. Unfortunately, a desperation made 3-point shot from the Jack’s Deondre Parks was fouled by Christian Mackey. Parks hit the free throw to make it a 4-point play and narrowed the Pioneer margin to 6 points. The Jackrabbits kept narrowing the margin down to 53-52, DU, with 1-minute to go.  SDSU then hit two free throws on a trip (the same call that was not made against Joe Rosga on the other end) to take the lead 54-53, SDSU. A flurry of activity in the waning seconds and a make-up call and missed 1-and-1 free throw from Rosga allowed the Jackrabbits to eek out the win.

SDSU Mike Daum, a 6’9″ 2-star freshman of the year for SDSU, played a major role in bringing the Jackrabbits back. A player like Daum is a difference maker who causes havoc in the interior and is just the kind of player Denver needs to add this off-season. DU is still missing this critical piece to guard the interior on defense and score easy buckets in the paint.

As disappointing as the final score was, Pioneer fans have to be encouraged by this year’s squad – led by a selfless seniors , never quit underclassmen, and a talented group of freshmen.  They are poised to become a very good team over the next several years. Special recognition should go out to the coaching staff – Joe Scott, John Fitzgerald, Nate Rohnert, Dan Ficke, John Jordan, and Alex Pickard who developed a deep roster and kept the players together over the ups and down of a challenging college basketball season. Few of us could have imagined this kind of progress heading into the 2015-2016 season.

8 thoughts on “Pioneers Scorch Jackrabbits in Second Half Tear but Come Up Short 53-54”

  1. Tough tough loss. Man, this is gonna be an 8-month hurt. My only quibble is that the Pios obviously needed a little offensive infusion with about 5 minutes to go and once again, their best outside shooter in Engesser was on the pine. Even Nate’s senior leadership and ball handling were needed inside 2 minutes, but he sat. Coach Scott lived and died with the youngsters. It is what it is, but I felt some additional strategic subbing could’ve made the difference down the stretch, especially when everyone sees the giant pendulum swing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kids got tight. Short armed every shot. Nate might have helped. A little better ball handling down the stretch and maybe SDSU does not have time to make their comeback. This loss really hurt. National TV tonight would have been a shot in the arm to DU basketball and to Scott’s reputation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Easy to second guess at this point, but Nate’s game had really fallen off in the last 5-7 games or so. Not sure why. Rosa was in the top 15 free throw shooters in the nation this year, so the right guy was on the line when it mattered, at least statistically.

    This one hurts for sure, but I know this DU team gave every last ounce on the floor, and that’s all I can ask for as a fan. This was a team that was well coached, had a plan for winning and damn near stole that game where they were 10 point underdogs, with 10,000 hostile fans screaming in their ears and a top 40 senior-driven opponent with far more tourney experience scrapping just as hard. That’s what college sports is all about….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, no doubt Rosga was the guy you wanted. Agreed on all points. I was just frustrated at watching it slip away, knowing the Pios just needed one more basket either when it was 53-50 or 53-52 that would have exerted even more pressure on the Jacks. Have to hand it to SDSU for clawing back from the brink two games in a row and playing their own lock down D in the last 5 minutes. As for Denver, the defensive game plan was just masterful, well coached, well played. A crushing loss, but nothing to hang their heads about.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Rosga and Bobbett looking like a good base for the future. Basketball still looking for that marquee victory, no reason we can’t be similar to a Belmont that is in contention for the conference every year.

        What’s the status of Coach Scott? Wasn’t this the last year of his contract?


  3. Scott’s contract is up at the end of the 2017-2018 season, so two more years from now. My guess is that if he has another winning season next season, they will extend him then, with the level of his progress dictating the length of his extension. If next year doesn’t show more progress…then DU would have to consider eating a year of his contract and moving on or letting him coach out his contract and then moving on. Recruits want to know what the coach’s status is, so I don’t think they’ll go more than another year without a decision on his future.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d extend Scott now for 4 years if he took a pay cut to about $250,000-$300,000 per once the current contract expires.. (of course he’d most likely never agree) Put incentives in it so he can and earn $400-$600K. He needs to swallow his pride. Overpaying someone from day 1 was a mistake which makes future contract negotiation tenuous at best.
    Let’s be honest. He’s not all that marketable. He’s a terrific coach, however, most kids don’t want to play for a screamer. Also, his recruiting is nothing to brag about. Most schools at DU’s level pay a HC $250K tops. Why pay him more?
    I did love his coat and tie removal last night in the final 30 seconds.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Coach Scott was apoplectic at the halfcourt tripping call with 2.0 seconds left. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he didn’t watch that Rosga FT, right? I think relying on crowd reaction is more heartbreaking than watching it unfurl before your eyes.
    I really like Joe Scott, screaming and all, he’s still a class act and runs a class program. He’s a hardass, but seems fair and above board. As long as he doesn’t engage in verbal or physical abuse, then being a hardass is no crime. You NEVER see DU players taunt or disrespect opponents or fans, and they rarely argue with the refs. By comparison every guy on Omaha was chirping after every call the other night.
    Class program. Year in, year out, Scott’s players on the whole are student-athletes we can be proud of.

    Liked by 2 people

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