By Jeff Portnoy
The basketball Bows did alomst everything they could to defeat Illinois last night, but missed freethrows and turnovers converted into points contributed to a last second heartbreaking loss.
There is much good news coming out of this effort. The team played hard and together, and the frontline dominated this Big Ten team. Spearman made good on his desire to let Ill know they made a mistake when they didnt recruit him with a 20 point, 9 rebound effort, many of the buckets coming on dribble drives to the basket ( the one shot he missed, however, a dunk late in the game, will stay with him for a while).
Vander was Vander. Dominating the inside, he scored 22 points and had 11 rebounds. he could not be stopped. And the 14 foot turn around jump shot that sent the game into overtime will join the ranks of last second shots by UH that fans will long remember.
Speaking of the fans, 7500 of them watched a great college basketball game. The students continue to show up, and the place was rocking.
The game did expose some continuing issues in the backcourt, however, The athletic and very quick Ill guards constantly blew by the defense and either scored on layups or were fouled. After missing a ton of threes early, Ill made the big threes down the stretch and in overtime as the Bows perimieter defense was exposed. Turnovers converted into points ( 16 into 21 points), and missed freethrows down the stretch ( 17-31) ultimately dooomed the home team.
But what we learned is that edition of the basketball team is exciting and talented. They will be a force in the Big West. The frontcourt is as good as advertised. The backcourt remains an issue, but for the most part, Tavita ran the offense competently with 7 assists ( however 5 turnovers). One thing is pretty clear on the negative side, however. There is no solid backup point guard and on nights when Jace gets into foul trouble, as he did last night, the team will struggle.
But all in all, a great effort by the basketball Bows. They showed the basketball world that could stay with, and probably should have beaten, a Big Ten Team. Illinois will not win their Conference, but they are a solid team with a few very good players. and UH stood toe to toe with them for 44 minutes and 58 seconds. Way to go Bows