There's no denying that the 2015-16 academic year was a rough one for the University of Cincinnati, at least when it came to sports. Sure, the football team went to a bowl game, men's basketball was dancing in March and baseball shocked everybody with a long run at the top of the American Athletic Conference. However, when the Bearcats were unceremoniously washed out of the AAC baseball tourney last Wednesday after just two games, it was added to a long list of soul-bursting disappointments.
The first few stages of the Kubler-Ross grief model came quickly after most of these letdowns. Denial came when it just didn't seem possible that Jalen Adams hit that buzzer beater from the opposing foul line. Anger came when Gunner Kiel was intercepted at the goal line against Temple. Bargaining came when we said to ourselves "Hey, we hung right with Iowa State. We're still headed for big things." Finally, depression set in when Octavius Ellis came just a fraction of a second short of forcing overtime in the NCAA Tournament. Now we have to get to acceptance and the best way to do that is to face those sour memories one last time. Think of this as a counselor's session on the internet for all the Bearcat faithful.
Tier 4: Tough but Fair
Baseball: 7-6 (10) at Georgia
Just over a week after nearly upsetting LSU, UC fell in walkoff fashion to another SEC program.
Women’s Basketball: 54-51 at Memphis
The Bearcats led by as many as five points in the final quarter but were outscored 12-4 over the final 6:36 to cough up yet another one.
Men's Basketball: 70-68 (OT) vs. Tulsa
Troy Caupain forced overtime but the Bearcats fell short when Shaq Thomas missed a 3-pointer at the end of overtime.
Baseball: 6-5 (12) at LSU
An extra-inning walkoff spoiled what would have been a beautiful start to the 2016 campaign.
Tier 3: Woulda Shoulda
Men's Basketball: 78-76 vs. Butler
The Bearcats lead by as many as nine points but let the game slip away down the stretch, with Roosevelt Jones driving in the final hammer to give UC its first loss of the season.
Women’s Basketball: 63-60 vs. ECU
Another example of letting a late lead slip away, the Bearcats were up 60-57 with just over three minutes to play but failed to score the rest of the way in a three-point loss.
Men's Basketball 67-65 (2OT) vs. Temple
UC allowed a winnable game escape its grasp thanks to hot 3-point shooting from the Owls and a failure to score in the final minute of the second overtime.
Basketball: 59-57 vs. SMU
Still in search of a marquee win for the resume, the Bearcats pulled ahead 57-56 late in the game thanks to a bucket from Ellis. However, Troy Caupain missed a layup and Farad Cobb bricked a 3-pointer during the last minute while Nic Moore splashed a dagger to send the Bearcats home with an L.
Tier 2: ALMOST
Football: 33-30 at Houston
Tommy Tuberville's crew nearly came back from a 30-14 deficit but turned the ball over on downs on the last possession after storming back.
Basketball: 81-79 vs. Iowa State:
The Bearcats clawed back to take a 78-75 lead in the final minutes and were clinging to a 79-78 edge before a last-second 3-pointer from Abdel Nader crushed their upset hopes.
Football: 34-26 vs. Temple.
Trailing 34-26 late in the game, the Bearcats were driving but Gunner Kiel was intercepted on first and goal from Temple's five yard line to seal the win for the Owls.
Tier 1: @#$%!
Baseball: 7-6 (10) vs. UCF
A largely successful season was cut far too short as Cincinnati was kicked out of the AAC Tournament on day two after letting a 4-0 lead slip away before finally succumbing to a walkoff punch to the teeth.
Men's Basketball: 104-97 (4OT) vs. UConn
It took four overtimes, and a ridiculous three-quarter court heave from Adams to send Cincinnati to its first loss in three tries against the Huskies and also end its AAC tournament title hopes.
Men's Basketball: 78-76 vs. St. Joe’s
Octavius Ellis' putback seemingly sent the game to overtime, but after an excruciating wait for the referees to examine video evidence, the shot was called off and the Bearcats left the floor stunned.
There, there. Everything will be OK. That certainly was a painful trip down memory lane. Even when rewatching that last Ellis play for the six thousandth time I still somehow think the ball is going to be off his hand in time. But the past is the past. Here's hoping for much less heartbreak in 2016-17.