Unkindest cut: Loyola’s offense slices up Nevada Wolf Pack defense
ATLANTA — Penetrate and dish for an open 3-pointer. It seems to be what most college basketball teams do nowadays.
The key to stopping that type of offense is to stop dribble penetration and keep the dribbler in front of you.
It’s what Nevada was unable to do in the second half of its season-ending 69-68 loss to Loyola of Chicago on Thursday at Philips Arena in a South Regional semifinal.
Leading by four, the Ramblers hit their first 13 shots of the second half en route to a 55-45 advantage. Many were dunks and blow-by layups, as the Wolf Pack suddenly was helpless on defense, and Loyola’s Marques Townes, Clayton Custer, Ben Richardson and Aundre Jackson took full advantage.
“We didn’t do a good job of keeping in front of them,” Nevada’s Cody Martin said. “We had a tough time defending that. They execute well. They would get in the lane, and it wasn’t to shoot. It was pre-determined that they were going to kick it out, and they found the open man.”
And, Loyola made it tougher by going small in the second half. Loyola coach Porter Moser used Jackson instead of 6-9 freshman Cameron Krutwig, who was unable to handle the quicker Pack players inside.
Jackson, after a 1-for-6 first half, hit all five of his field-goal attempts in the final 20 minutes. Six of his points came in the field-goal barrage by Loyola.
“The whole team was telling me to use my shot fakes, because they’re jumping for everything,” Jackson said. “I should have got into it the first half, but I didn’t, and then in the second half it just started working, and then I started making shots.”
“I mean, they’re a really, really good offensive team,” Musselman said. “There’s no doubt about it. They do a great job cutting. They do a great job with spacing.”
Many in the media center were discussing the decision by Musselman not to foul with 36 seconds left. Nevada had committed only four fouls at that point and two to give before putting Loyola in the bonus.
Nevada could’ve played Hack-a-Shaq and fouled until Loyola had to shoot free throws. Nevada elected to go for a stop, and Marques Townes drained a big 3-pointer that proved to be the game-winning shot.
Moser said he would’ve done the same thing Musselman did.
“You have to make a split decision,” Moser said. “There was a six- or seven-second difference. If they foul, then you’re pretty much saying, you were going to try to make them miss free throws because they’re going to foul and foul and foul again until you get it because the shot clock resets, right?
“They rolled with their defense. And they can score so fast. For me, I decided not to take a timeout (after a 3 by Martin) because then you have to inbound the ball, knowing they have some fouls, and they could be denying everything and they could hold, grab, do whatever, because they have fouls to give, and we’d have to get it inbounds two or three times, which you’re vulnerable to turnovers. So you have a small window to make that decision, and at that time — I probably would have done the same thing. You’re gambling on your defense. They get a stop, they’ve got seven or eight seconds, and they’re a fast transition team.”