Ponies Heading to The Big Apple; Top Cal 67-65

Published: Mar 27, 2014 03:17am EDT
By Michael Owen, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 27, 2014 @ 03:17am EDT

 

(DALLAS, TX) – The SMU Mustangs came back from as many as 9 points to defeat Cal 67-65 on a 3 pointer from Nic Moore with 6.5 seconds left in the game to send the Mustangs to the NIT Final Four in New York City.

Markus Kennedy led SMU with 19 points and 10 rebounds to go along with Moore’s 11 points.

The top seeded Mustangs (26-9) head to the Mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden, to play the 3rd seeded Clemson Tigers (20-12) on April 1st in the semi-finals of the NIT

Jabari Bird led the Bears (21-14) with 20 points, while senior Justin Cobbs chipped in 18.

With Cal leading 24-15 with 7:10 remaining in the first half, SMU went on a 17-5 run led by 8 points from Keith Frazier to lead 32-29 at the half

In a game that had 7 lead changes and four ties, the game came down to the final two shots. 

After a 3 pointer by Cobbs with 15 put Cal up 65-64 with 15.4 seconds left SMU Head Coach Larry Brown called a timeout to draw up the winning shot while Bear Head Coach Mike Montgomery drew up a defensive plan for SMU’s final run.  In a change of strategy after having some success running zone all night against the Mustangs, Cal switched to a man to man defense but when a defender slipped in coverage Moore was able to get a clean shot and hit the three.

 “Coach Brown had a play for us.” Sophomore Nic Moore stated. “I handed it off to Nick Russell, seeing that they had switched off from a zone to a man,, Markus (Kennedy) and set a great screen for me, I came off of it, Nick Russell found me and that time I just had to shoot and it went in.

“That’s a play we practice every day” senior Shawn Williams said after the game. “We were trying to get Nic the ball. We know if he got a good look he was going to make it” Williams continued. “Markus (Kennedy) set a good screen, probably his best screen he’s ever set in his life”

In possibly the loudest game all season at sold out Moody Coliseum , the game was played before a sellout crowd including local dignitaries Tony Romo, Jason Garrett and former President George W. Bush.  

Mustang fans stormed the court for just the second time in school history, the first coming after the Ponies beat #7 Cincinnati earlier this season after Cobbs missed 3 pointer at the buzzer clinched the victory for the Ponies. “It was a little bit sweeter this time because we’re going to New York." Senior Shawn Williams said of the fans reaction to the win. "We’re playing for something now. It was sweet. The fans did a great job; they always do a great job" 

The Mustangs finished the season 18-1 at home including 12-1 at newly renovated Moody Coliseum.

Now the Mustangs and Larry Brown head to his hometown of New York City to continue on their quest to prove themselves to the nation after being snubbed for the NCAA tournament.

“There’s only 20 teams left playing now, and after this weekend I think there will only be eight left, and we’re one of them” Brown said after the game. That’s so great for our program and for our kids.” Brown went on to add. “And again, Matt Doherty left me with some class kids. I think the class of those kids allowed us to move on”.

In a change from a season trend, SMU was out shot by Cal 51% to the Ponies 44% but the difference in this game was the rebounding as the Mustangs out-rebounded the Bears 35-22. Of the 35 boards the Ponies pulled down, 17 were offensive which pushed the Stangs to 16-0 advantage in second chance points.

After a day off from practice tomorrow the Mustangs prepare for “the other” Final Four.  Start spreading the news.


 

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