It was Cane Broome’s turn to be the hero on Saturday. Although the senior guard’s layup with 22 seconds to play didn’t account for the final score of the game, it was certainly the most important in a 66-63 win for the Cincinnati Bearcats over the Wichita State Shockers in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Bearcats, who led by as many as 13 points in the second half, found themselves tied at 62 all with 3:10 to play. Jarron Cumberland broke the tie by splitting free throws with 1:48 left, but the Shockers evened things up when Jaime Echenique split a pair of his own with 46 seconds to play. The Bearcats finally responded with a field goal when Broome made his clutch basket and when Markis McDuffie missed an attempt on the other end, Rashawn Fredericks secured the rebound and Cumberland made a free throw on the other end to finish things off.
Even though the Bearcats led by a pretty convincing margin at one point in the second half, they trailed 32-29 at halftime. In those first 20 minutes, they held the Shockers to 33.3 percent shooting, but they missed all seven of their field goal tries while Wichita State had as many made foul shots as the Bearcats had made field goals (13 each). The Bearcats came out of the break on a 12-1 run and appeared to be ready to cruise to victory before the last-minute theatrics.
Nysier Brooks (13 points, 9 rebounds) and Trevon Scott (12 points, 8 rebounds) were the top scorers for the second-seed Bearcats. The two frontcourt partners also played a large role in securing a 42-33 advantage on the glass, which included an 18-9 edge on the offensive side. All those extra opportunities paid off, as the Bearcats outscored the Shockers 14-3 in second chance points.
McDuffie had a game-high 18 points and Samajae Haynes-Jones added 17 as the sixth-seed Shockers narrowly missed completing the upset.
With this win, the Bearcats have set up a second-straight Sunday appointment with the AAC regular season champion Houston Cougars, as the two teams will meet in the tournament finals on Sunday afternoon. It will be UC’s third-straight season in the league’s title game.