|Posted by Brian Dickmann on December 22, 2014 at 8:55 PM|
Keifer Sykes got a decent look from 35 feet as the buzzer sounded, but it was just off the mark and the Green Bay Phoenix fell to the UC-Irvine Anteaters 72-70 on Monday afternoon in the championship game at the Holiday Hoops Showcase in Las Vegas.
The Anteaters (6-5) hit a remarkable 10 of 16 (62.5%) from three point land in the game, including several clutch shots down the stretch. They shot nearly 47% from the floor overall.
"Give them credit, they made the plays down the stretch," said Green Bay head coach Brian Wardle after the game. " They made the big shots and we didn't."
The Phoenix raced off to a 9-0 start and eventually led by 11 points in the first half. It would not last long, however, as Anteater big men were dominant in the paint. Irvine eventually would lead by 12 with 3:45 left in the first half, but Green Bay cut the lead to just 6 at halftime.
"We started off very fast and then they came back and fought," Wardle said. "Our front line didn't play very well in the first half but they responded and played better in the 2nd half."
"Everyone stepped up, they just made more plays down the stretch."
Keifer Sykes led the Phoenix with 22 points. Much like Arkansas-Little Rock the day before, UC-Irvine played a box and one defense on Sykes for long stretches of the game. This time, Green Bay was not as successful overcoming it, shooting just 4-18 from beyond the arc.
Poor free throw shooting also came back to bite the Phoenix. Shooting just over 60% as a team this season, Green Bay would miss 12 free throws in this game, going 18-30 from the free throw line. They made 27 of 53 (50.9%) free throws in the two game tournament.
"The free throws, it is what it is," said Wardle. "We know what it is and it came back and kind of haunted us in this game."
"Guarding the 3 point line and free throw shooting against a good UC-Irvine team cost us the game."
Still, Green Bay was able to battle back. The game was tied at 70 when the Anteater's Alex Young hit a ridiculous fade-away jump shot with just 1.7 seconds left. That set up Sykes for the last shot. "It's a play we've practiced a million times," Wardle said. "Keifer got it inside half court with 1.7, had one dribble and had actually a decent look at the rim and just missed it."
"I was proud of how we responded."
Categories: Game Recaps