Signature Win by DU Hoops, 76-73, in OT Thriller

It is one thing to win a game on your home court against a very good team. It is quite another thing to win a contest when both teams are playing their best. In one of the most thrilling contests in recent DU basketball history, Rodney Billups squad exchanged punches with a veteran Fort Wayne (16-8, 5-5) team and found a way to win. With five seconds left in OT, a chaotic series produced the win – a missed shot from Joe Rosga, a rebound from Daniel Amigo and pass out to C.J. Bobbitt and heave from beyond the arc with no time left in OT found net – and set off a delirious scene at Magness Arena.

It was simply a case of a Pioneer team that refused to give up, refused to back down, and kept the pressure on a veteran Mastodon squad that blinked first.

“I like the result”, said a relieved Rodney Billups. “Our guys fought. Daniel Amigo gave it (the shot) up to C.J.. Usually when you play unselfishly – the ball goes in. I am really happy for him – he had to defend Jon Konchar. We needed him to play well defensively. I am so proud of that kid. I felt comfortable with (playing) the starting five in the second half. I am proud of our bench for staying engaged and cheering the guys on.”

In the first half, Denver came out strong and led 12-6 in the first five minutes with half of DU’s points coming from Daniel Amigo. A bucket by Thomas Neff and 3-pointer by Jake Pemberton were offset by the Mastadons star guard tandem – a jumper from John Konchar and three point bucket from Mo Evans but DU held on to an 18-12 lead. Two three-point shots from Thomas Neff highlighted the next 5 minutes for DU. Neff’s points were offset by layups from Deangelo Stewart and Mo Evans which held DU’s lead to 28-19. In the final 5 minutes of the half, DU missed some easy shots and the Mastodons whittled away at DU’s lead with a jumper from Xzavier Taylor, free throws from John Konchar and a jump shot from Bryson Scott to end the half 35-29 Denver.

In the first three minutes of the second half, DU held a 6 point advantage – but Fort Wayne began to surge. A Mo Evans 3-point shot and a Bryson Scott jumper were followed by a Deangelo Stewart 3-point laser that tied the contest at 43 each. At 13:48, Fort Wayne took their first lead, 47-46, on a Deangelo Stewart layup. DU called a timeout to settle the Pioneers. Two Daniel Amigo buckets and a 3-point basket by Thomas Neff were countered by Xzavier Tayler and Mo Evans layups followed by a dunk by Deangelo Stewart that gave the Mastadons a 2-point lead with 10:00 minutes to go. The teams held serve until a lay-up by Joe Rosga tied the score 61 each with 5 minutes to go. With :47 seconds left in regulation, C.J. Bobbitt tied the game again 69-69. DU got the ball back with the final shot but a Joe Rosga’s try was blocked and the game went into overtime.

Fort Wayne got first blood in overtime when Jordan King drove for an easy layup. Denver followed that with two Daniel Amigo free throws and a Thomas Neff jumper to make it 73-71 Denver. Brent Calhoun tied the game at 73-73 with only :11 seconds to go in OT. That is when the ball went from Rosga to Amigo to C.J. Bobbitt for the long-range 3-point winner. And, of course, pandemonium ensued on the court and in the stands.

In their best defensive effort of the year, the Pioneers held Fort Wayne to 40.8% shooting, secured 39 rebounds to 42, and each squad had 11 turnovers. John Konchar scored a double double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Mo Evans had 18 points and 5 assists and fouled out of the contest. Daniel Amigo had 22 points and 7 rebounds. Thomas Neff was red-hot from the field with 21 points and 5 rebounds. The hero, C.J. Bobbitt, had 12 points and 7 rebounds. One of the less visible highlights of the game was the Mo Evans – Jake Pemberton match-up. All night long, especially on the defensive end, Pemberton battled Evans for everything he earned – it was a pleasure to watch those two give it their all the entire game – until Evans fouled out of the contest.

Denver (15-9, 7-4) remains in second place, tied with South Dakota – one game behind league leader North Dakota State. This sets up a showdown against North Dakota State University Saturday in Fargo, North Dakota where Denver can earn a share of the Summit League top spot.

5 thoughts on “Signature Win by DU Hoops, 76-73, in OT Thriller”

  1. That was definitely the most exciting Denver game I’ve ever been to! When Fort Wayne went on that 13-0 run to turn a 54-47 deficit into a 60-54 lead you could kind of feel the air go out of the arena and the Denver players had their heads down.

    But in an impressive performance by both the players and the fans, those feelings were only momentary and soon enough the Pios were pushing and the fans were right back in it. This seemed to be the biggest non-children’s day crowd of the season and it definitely felt like the most involved crowd. A sign of things to come in the Billups era and an electrifying experience to be sure.

    At this point in the season I wouldn’t be surprised if any or all of NDSU/Denver/USD came away with the league title. And would any of us be shocked if Fort Wayne or even Omaha got hot and were able to grab a share?

    With Denver having four favorable matchups to close the season, I would say this NDSU game on Tuesday is the biggest regular season game since…. ? Some of you folks with a better idea of the team’s history will have to let me know!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We once lost a season ending game 56-55 at Loyola Chicago. A win would have sent us to NIT when it was important. We started that season 4-8 and then went on a 14 game winning streak with 2 top 10 wins in the streak. DU was an independent.


    2. Amigo staying out of foul trouble yesterday was key. His conditioning amazed me.
      I’ve watched college hoops for many years. Never seen a rookie coach get such respect from refs on the road as Rodney gets. Might be “The CHAUNCEY EFFECT”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Huge win. This team’s persistence is special. Once again, a different combo of leaders each game, this time it was Neff and Amigo with the big games and Bobbitt with the heroics.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great college basketball game! Too bad the whole campus was away at Winter Carnival. This was a watershed game in which DU stepped up to its adversity and got the result it needed. It was a huge, unselfish team win that should give the team a nice shot of confidence here in the stretch run. DU answered the challenge against a very experienced Fort Wayne team and were able to wield the dagger when it mattered. Making that big shot was huge for CJ Bobbitt’s personal confidence. Moreover, Amigo’s choice to pass up a close-in winning shot to fire it to an outside-the-arc Bobbitt was a a moment of nice growth for Amigo, too.

    Moreover, the coaches made a very interesting strategic decision last night that may have interesting ramifications down the stretch. Until last night, DU utilized a 10-man interchangeable lineup thought the games, to try and keep people fresh, manage the foul situation and get opponents tired at altitude. And since the talent gaps in the lineup are fairly similar, it has worked pretty well against most of the teams DU has played.

    But last night, DU kept the basically the same starting 5-guy lineup in the game for the whole second half, except for Ade Murkey getting some limited second half time for defensive purposes. Given the winning result against a more athletic opponent that DU did not match up well with on paper, do we see more of this go-with-your-best-guys strategy down the stretch? We now know who the coaches are most confident in as players…Or does DU return to it’s 10 guys in-and-out? If they do keep the big guns in longer, does it play well with the other players/team chemistry? Can those top five guys handle it physically?


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