Why does Greenville, North Carolina cause such stress and heart ache for Cincinnati Bearcats fans?
One year after losing on the road to an ECU team that finished the season 10-21 overall, Cincinnati returned to Williams Arena, where they turned the ball over 22 times, made just 5 free throws, and saw their All American foul out with 2 minutes to go in regulation - and they won.
It wasn’t easy, it really never is with this team, but Cincinnati beat East Carolina 70-67 in overtime, their third straight overtime game. According to ESPN Stats, they became the first team in college basketball history to play three straight OT games twice in one season.
Bearcats improved to 17-8 overall and 10-3 in AAC play. They are tied with Houston at 10-3, but by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker are in first place.
Cincinnati jumped out to an 11-2 start, but cooled off immediately, while ECU settled in and trailed just 30-27 at halftime.
Both teams swapped runs and large leads in the second half. At one point, ECU took a 9 point lead, before Cincinnati came back with a run of their own, to take an 8 point lead, that they would eventually give right back to ECU.
Jarron Cumberland, playing with 4 fouls, committed a boneheaded foul, reaching in with 1 second left on the shot clock. He would exit the game with 14 points, 4 assists and rebounds and left the Bearcats in a battle for their tournament lives, with 1:30 to go.
Jarron was replaced by freshman Zach Harvey, who would come in and hit a huge three with 25 seconds to go - the first, and the only, bench points for Cincinnati on Sunday.
THIS GAME!— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) February 16, 2020
"We have a thriller!" pic.twitter.com/EM7fi0wYzx
ECU matched and Cincinnati was unable to capitalize on the final possession, sending this game to overtime. Cincinnati lost to UConn a week ago in overtime and beat Memphis in OT on Thursday.
Overtime wasn’t supposed to favor the Bearcats, not with their senior leader on the bench. So who would step up? It was Keith Williams.
"You've got to be kidding me. That is unbelievable!— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) February 16, 2020
That is 'We want to stay on the court outside in the summer and we don't want to lose and I've got to make this shot.'
Holy cow!"@GoBearcatsMBB pic.twitter.com/jc6T7k9d2h
Williams had 6 points in overtime (out of the Bearcats’ 9 total point) and finished with a game-high 17 points.
Trevon Scott continued his beast mode run over the last month of so, recording his 10th double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds. In the last three games, Scott has combined for 64 points and 44 rebounds.
Mika Adams-Woods had his second straight game scoring double figures (10 points) and also had 4 assists and a career-high 6 rebounds.
The bench remains a major concern for Cincinnati. They shot a combined 1-6. Chris McNeal and Mamoudou Diarra were extremely unproductive in 19 combined minutes. Jeremiah Davenport followed up the best performance of his career with 3 minutes and Jaevin Cumberland had more turnovers (2) than three point shot attempts (1).
Someone really needs to lock these Bearcats in the gym to shoot free throws for 24 consecutive hours. After going 29-47 at a team on Thursday against Memphis, Cincinnati followed that up by going 5-16 on Sunday. Bearcats have been extremely fortunate that free throws haven’t been a major reason for a loss yet, but with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line in every game Cincinnati plays for the rest of the season, it would be a shame if that became a reason.
Probably an overtime game, right?
Cincinnati has 2 home games this week. First, on Wednesday they host UCF, who the Bearcats beat in Orlando earlier this season.
Then, on Sunday, Cincinnati hosts Wichita State looking to sweep the season series for the second straight year and looking to continue their push towards the NCAA Tournament.
NO MORE GREENVILLE
ECU has never been a threat since joining the AAC in either men’s basketball or football.
Yet Cincinnati lost at ECU last year. Lost their first conference meeting in 2015. Went to overtime on Sunday.
In football, the Bearcats are 2-1 in road games against ECU in conference plays, with both Cincinnati wins coming on field goals as time expired.
Let’s just never play in Greenville, North Carolina again. Okay? Please?