Denver Turnaround Jolts Tommies at the Buzzer, 75-74

DU (5-10-1-1) deserved to win against Western Illinois two days ago but lost. Denver figured to lose against St Thomas (6-5, 1-1) this afternoon after a brutal first half. Ditto the same for Payton Moore who missed two free throws to ice the Western Illinois game in the final 10 seconds two days ago but had ice in his veins against St. Thomas as he made a critical three-point play down the stretch, setting up a mad dash down court by Jordan Johnson with five seconds to go and a jumper by Touko Tainamo for the game-winner at the buzzer.

Denver was shorthanded without their leading scorer KJ Hunt and Taylr Gatlin. Denver played such a poor first period that it felt like Billups-era basketball had returned – or worse. Denver started slow (again) in the first five minutes. The Tommies canned three 3’s while Denver went 25% from the field, trailing 11-2. The Tommies worked inside the next five minutes going up 25-7 at the midway point of the first period. Denver carved the margin to 10, 37-27 with two Jordan Johnson free throws with three minutes to go. The Tommies sliced and diced DU’s shakey defense the rest of the way, leading 44-29 at the break. Sharpshooter Riley Miller led the Tommies with 11 points and DU’s Coban Porter countered with 9.

Then, like magic, Denver flipped a switch in the second half, outscoring the Tommies 46-30 and shutting down St Thomas from beyond the arc. Denver shot 67% from the floor and 89% from the line (8-9) in a startling turn of events.

A Jordan Johnson 3-point make pulled DU within 7 points, 48-41 at 15:00. Denver kept chipping away, drawing within four, 52-48. A Tevin Smith bucket made it 52-50 at 11:30. A few moments later Smith stepped to the line at 9:51 and tied the score, 55-55. A red-hot Coban Porter helped DU build a 3-4 point lead into the final few minutes as St Thomas came surging back.

Just like the Western Illinois game two days earlier, the fireworks began in the final minute. A three-point play by Payton Moore with 41 seconds left put DU up, 73-72. St Thomas fought back with a Anders Nelson jumper in the paint to take the lead, 74-73. DU fouled Brooks Allen with 5 seconds left but his charity toss fell to Mikey Henn with five seconds left, trailing by 1 point. As seconds ticked away, Jordan Johnson raced up court and sailed the ball to Touko Tainamo for the winning jumper, 75-74, Denver.

One more look…

Freshman Coban Porter led the comeback with 22 points and 3 rebounds. Jordan Johnson played 39 minutes, scoring 17 points and hauled in 4 rebounds. Tainamo continues to play solid for Denver in the paint with 13 points. But Payton Moore may be the player of the game with his 9 points and 2 rebounds coming off a tough game against Western Illinois.

Denver shooting and second-half fight ultimately won the game but turnovers continue to be an area in need of improvement where the Pioneers committed 8 more than the Tommies (14-6).  Denver also won big on the boards 31-22. But the Pioneers excelled in the most important category of all, ‘persistence’.

3 thoughts on “Denver Turnaround Jolts Tommies at the Buzzer, 75-74”

  1. Very nice win! Showed a lot of grit to come all the way back and win after a lackluster first half! St Thomas is capable and this provides some momentum heading into the stretch. Each additional win is an improvement over last season and I think they could conceivably hit double digit wins

  2. Damn, that was fun!! After a dreadful start and a mostly forgettable first half, this Pioneer team roared back and earned a hard-fought victory. Lots of grit and perseverance on display out there this afternoon. Huge W. This is a different squad, without question, than the one we’ve seen in the past few years.

  3. Exciting win after a horrendous start. Taking a 10-1 WIU team to OT, and winning the STU buzzer-beater game after being down 18 (without DU’s best player) are league milestone games that will help this young program grow right before our eyes.

    Will there be more losses? Yes, of course there will be more losses. But we’re seeing fight, belief, scrappiness, competitiveness and drive in these guys, most of whom have never played together before this season.

    Can they win a league road game? That’s the next milestone…

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