The Greyhounds just didn’t make near enough free throws.
Pope made only 11-of-23 from the free throw line, and that proved to be the difference as Tucker went on to win 71-64 in double overtime.
“We struggled all year long from the line, so this wasn’t abnormal for us,” Pope coach Pat Abney said. “We’re a team that typically overcomes it, but (Tuesday), unfortunately, we just didn’t overcome it. It was our game to win. We just didn’t make enough free throws.”
Logan Cooperman had a shot at giving Pope a one-point lead with 10 seconds to play but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and the Greyhounds had to settle for overtime.
Late in the first overtime period, when Pope was trying to rally from an early five-point deficit, Chase Hutchins had a chance to tie it on the free throw line with less than 30 seconds left after making a game-saving steal, but he couldn’t get either shot to fall. Garrick DeBowles bailed him out with layup at the buzzer to extend the game.
But the aforementioned missed free throws weren’t the reason Pope lost. Of the 10 times the Greyhounds went to the foul line in the game to shoot two, they only made both shots three times.
Tucker made Pope pay in the second overtime by going 9-of-11 from the line. The Tigers built a seven-point lead during the period on a three-point play and a pair of free throws by on a Josh Ware.
Ben Welte’s 3-pointer pulled Pope within four with 22 seconds to play, but Ware sealed the victory with when he turned a steal into a layup 12 seconds later.
“We had it,” said DeBowles. “We stayed in the game for two overtimes but couldn’t hold on to it.”
When Pope wasn’t on the free throw line, the Greyhounds were clicking on both sides of the court.
Drew Romich finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Chase Hutchins led the Greyhounds with 22 points, DeBowles added 13 and Cole Childers finished with 12.
T.J. Thomas led Tucker with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Devanta Reynolds ended with 17, Shembari Phillips added 12 and Jon Dunmeyer finished with 11.
After trailing the entire third quarter, Romich gave Pope a 47-45 lead early in the fourth with a jump shot before DeBowles extended it when he layed in a Childers pass.
Pope made the lead stick until Reynolds hit a 3 with over a minute left in regulation to tie it at 51-all.
“It was a heck of a basketball game,” Abney said, “and free throws were the difference.”