Zone propels Bearcats to win in OT

After allowing a 16 point lead to slip away in the final 8 minutes of regulation the Cincinnati Bearcats scored 20 in overtime to earn a hard fought 93-81 victory at Providence.

Bishop Leads The Way

After playing the unsung hero role on the defensive end in the win over Louisville, he pulled off double duty tonight by defending Marshon Brooks, the leading scorer in the Big East, and also putting up 23 points and 6 rebounds to go with 3 assists in 44 minutes of action.

While he missed a late free throw that could have helped avoid overtime, he scored the first 4 points in the extra period to get the Cats back on track. Head coach Mick Cronin felt fatigue was a factor on the missed FT, it was clear his senior leader played a huge role in the victory.

“Rashad had to play to match up with Marshon Brooks,” Cronin said. “Rashad played 44 minutes, obviously we don't play that way. I think that would attribute to the missed free throw in regulation, he didn't bend his knees on the first one.”

In The Zone

With the score tied at 73 the Friars called a time out with 9 seconds remaining to draw up their last play. It was then that Cronin finally listened to assistant coach George Jackson, who had wanted to implement a 2-3 zone for much of the 2nd half. The wrinkle worked to perfection as Brooks came off a screen and couldn't find the space to get to the rim so he fired an off balance 3 pointer that missed the mark and sent the game to overtime.

“It's the first possession we've played a 2-3 zone (all season), said Cronin. “We play it in practice every other day. George Jackson wanted me to play it the whole 2nd half and he might have been right. Right when he suggested it they went on a barrage of 3 pointers so I was scared to go to it. On that last possession I told the guys we're not going to foul and we're not going to lose on a lay up. We're going to make them make a shot here.”

Gates Makes The Play

The zone itself was one unexpected wrinkle, but initially Providence had it beat by setting a screen that knocked both of the top defenders off of Brooks. Yancy Gates then stepped up and changed the path Brooks wanted to take, and forced the lower percentage look. While he was very impressive on the offensive end scoring 21 points and adding 8 rebounds, it was that adjustment that made his coach the happiest after the game.

“Dion doubled Marshon Brooks and they set a screen outside of Dion and he was going to come off clean because he and Cash were on the ball side of the screen and Yancy Gates saved the game,” Cronin said. “He ran out of the paint out of the zone and ran Marshon Brooks out of a normal shot. He saw it coming, he saw Dion was going to get pinched in and that's a play that doesn't show up in that stat sheet that's a winning play. If he doesn't do that Brooks turns the corner and gets to the rim and probably gets the foul call.”

Overtime Attack

In the extra period the Cats did what they couldn't seem to manage in the final 8 minutes of regulation by making one pass and then getting the ball over the press and scoring at point blank range with a dunk or lay up. Cronin once again talked about this team needing to be more aggressive looking to score in transition because they just aren't a prolific half court team, and the message was driven home in the extra 5 minutes as they scored 20 points to blow the doors open on Big East win #8.

“I'm telling guys we've got to throw over and attack,” Cronin said. “We passed the ball over their press in the back court on the first pass. Catch it and immediately throw towards the Providence basket. In overtime it's a lay up drill. Our first basket of overtime we had to execute our offense, Rashad got a little 4 footer in the lane. Other than that we got a stop, they pressed us, we threw over and layed it in.”

All quotes used in this article were taken from Coach Cronin’s post game radio interview with Chuck Machock and Dan Hoard on 700 WLW

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