Day two of the 2nd Annual Big Easy Classic pitted DU (5-1) against The Citadel (3-3). The Bulldogs had jacked up 127 3-point attempts (42 makes) in their first five games. Today, they launched 23 more shots from behind the arc and made 7 but their final shot from distance by Austin Ash missed the mark at the buzzer and the Pioneers escaped with the win, their third victory in a row, 74-71.
Despite the DU win, a possible knee injury to star Tevin Smith in the final five minutes clouded the victory celebration. Following the game, Head Coach Jeff Wulbrun said, “Not much (definitive news on Tevin) at this time.” The good news, according to Wulbrun, was that the pain had subsided – “all good signs. Time will tell.” However, Wulbrun indicated that trainers and medical examinations are needed to determine the full extent of the injury.
DU started the game strong, led by 5 early points by Tyree Corbett to lead 10-4 after the first five minutes. The Bulldogs narrowed the gap to 19-15 at the midway point of the first half as Denver started to go cold from the field. Following a Lukas Kisunas layup miss, The Citadel tied the score at 19 each on a Madison Durr layup. The Bulldogs Austin Ash hit the Bulldogs first 3-point make with 7:29 remaining to draw the score even with DU. Ash hit from distance again with five minutes to go to put The Citadel up 27-24. The teams traded points but Tyree Corbett pulled Denver within one point in the waning minutes of the half. Denver regained the lead following a timeout as Touko Tainamo was fouled and hit two free throws to regain the lead 34-33 at the break.
The teams traded buckets to open up the second half as Tyree Corbett gave DU the lead five minutes into the frame on his 21st point, 44-42. Layups by Touko Tainamo and Tevin Smith put Denver up 54-50 midway through the final half as Denver began to take control. A three-point make by Tommy Bruner put DU up by 6 with 8:11 remaining and Denver began to own the boards. That lead held until a Corbett free throw stretched the Denver lead to 7 points with five minutes remaining. The Citadel started to fight their way back when Tevin Smith’s knee buckled at 3:48 with the Pioneers up by three. The DU star had to be helped out of the game. Denver came up with a big defensive stop with a minute to go, leading by three, 69-66. The Citadel came back but Tommy Bruner’s free throw put Denver up by three again, 74-71 with 6 seconds left. The Bulldogs Austin Ash missed a three-point effort to tie the game as time expired. Final Score 74-71.
It was Tyree Corbett’s double-double, his second in two days, that keyed the DU win with 30 points and 12 rebounds. DU also earned an 11-rebound edge over the Bulldogs in the game. DU shot 44.4% from the field vs. The Citadel at 45.5%. . The win marked the first time in four years that Denver had rattled off three straight victories as Wulbrun, his staff and his team continue to achieve program milestones.
“I am real proud (of the team)”, said Coach Wulbrun. “It was a tight game. We knew The Citadel would be a tough team. We fought the entire game. We got some stops (especially in the second half) – they are a very good team. (DU Freshman) Justin Mullins defended one of the best three-point shooters (Austin Ash) in the game.” The win was a big one for a Denver team still learning to play together for the first time. Most importantly, wishing the best for Tevin Smith, a key cog in DU’s resurgence on the hardwood.