When an all-time great player for your program reaches his or her senior day, you hope they are able to produce one last great performance. Gary Clark certainly delivered one on Sunday, as the senior forward/problem rallied the No. 11 Cincinnati Bearcats to an 82-74 win over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at BB&T Arena.
It wasn’t a slam dunk senior day from the get-go. Clark only played eight minutes in the first half due to two early fouls. He was held to two points in that time and by halftime, the Golden Hurricane led 47-44. Thanks to Jarron Cumberland, the Bearcats (25-4, 14-2 American Athletic Conference) were able to hang around the hot-shooting Tulsa squad, as the sophomore had 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three-point range. But UC’s defensive work was not as strong, with Tulsa hitting 59.3 percent from the floor, including nine three pointers.
The second half saw a revitalized Bearcats unit get back to full strength and Clark was a big reason why. In his final home game, Clark scored 15 points during the final 20 minutes to help the Bearcats run past the Golden Hurricane. That included a dagger three with about nine minutes left.
While Tulsa kept fighting after Clark drilled that shot, the feeling that the Bearcats just weren’t going to lose this one was as strong as ever.
The second half also included a stunning effort from Cane Broome, who continued his recent heater, throwing up 15 points and four assists overall, with 11 of those points coming after intermission. Jacob Evans also contributed 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Clark’s frontcourt partner and fellow senior day honoree Kyle Washington had eight points and four rebounds.
Tulsa (17-11, 10-6) had a six-game winning streak end in this one, despite draining 14-of-30 three-point attempts and getting 21 points from Junior Etou. The problem (besides Clar) was the Golden Hurricane just couldn’t sustain its hot shooting from the first half, netting only 34.4 percent in the second frame.
Cincinnati has now won back-to-back games and remains in first place in the AAC. The Bearcats will play its last two regular season games on the road against Tulane and Wichita State this week.