RICHARDSON, Texas – Whitworth men’s basketball coach Matt Logie sat in an interview room chair Saturday night shocked at what he had just witnessed.
The Pirates looked to be on their way to a fifth consecutive NCAA Division III tournament Sweet 16 appearance when a desperation heave left the hands of UT Dallas guard Nolan Harvey.
Harvey’s shot found nothing but net and Whitworth was left stunned, falling 78-77 in overtime to host UT Dallas at the Activity Center.
The home crowd poured onto the court as the officials used a replay monitor to determine that the shot counted.
“Sometimes life isn’t fair,” Logie said after several long pauses. “I don’t necessarily know if tonight was one of those situations, but it was one of the rare games that I’ve been a part of where one team shoots 54 percent from the field and the other team shoots 35 percent and the team that shoots 54 percent doesn’t win.”
Logie also wasn’t pleased that Whitworth (23-6) shot 12 free throws to UT Dallas’ 38.
“We got a lot of kids that are searching for answers,” Logie said. “It’s tough. I didn’t think what happened tonight was right.”
Senior guard Dustin McConnell fouled out with 18 seconds left in overtime, but not before he made a significant impact. The biggest bucket of McConnell’s team-high 22 points came on a pull-up 3-pointer with 18 seconds left in the second half, tying the game 64-64 and forcing the extra five-minute session.
Whitworth was strong in the extra period, building a 76-70 lead with 38 seconds remaining. But the Pirates would close the night 1-of-4 from the free throw line, opening the door for UT Dallas (27-3) to bring the ball up court with seven seconds remaining. Harvey took a handoff with three seconds left, dribbled across the top of the key and launched.
“I thought they were the better team,” UT Dallas coach Terry Butterfield said. “Somehow, someway, we chipped away. There wasn’t one thing about the last play that went right. Thank God for Nolan Harvey tonight.”
Whitworth was at its best during the opening 10 minutes of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Pirates made 9 of their first 13 shots to jump out to a 23-18 lead midway through the first half. They made 9 of their first 14 shots in the second half, pulling ahead 56-41 with 9:50 to play.
But UT Dallas used a 16-0 run to go ahead 60-57 in the final minutes of regulation.
Kyle Schleigh led UT Dallas with 25 points, converting 11 of 13 free throws.
“We played great basketball,” Logie said. “I thought we were the better team all night. They made a great run to get back in it.”