It's the iconic clutch moment that movies shoot in slow motion as the camera pans to the crowd either yelling or gasping: The visiting team is up two, and the beloved home team has just a few seconds to try and tie it to stay alive just for a while longer. One shot decides it. You can watch the shot (minus the slow motion effects) here on MMM.
As good as Demetrious Floyd was all game, his closing layup just didn't fall in after it rolled around the rim, seeming to almost mock the Stephen F. Austin fans that showed up to watch an 8:00 am game. The junior guard from St. Louis, MO, may be disappointed in the result, but his heroics alongside fellow guard Thomas Walkup (Jr) was the reason the Lumberjacks had the chance to win in the first place.
It may seem odd to first praise the losing team, but Walkup and Floyd both scored 20 in a game that was back-and-forth throughout. Because of them, even in the moments where UNI was winning it felt like the Jacks were playing with the lead. The backcourt duo consistently shredded through a tight defense to make improbable shots as the shot clock wore down.
Northern Iowa's winning offensive gameplan was a balanced attack, allowing each of their seasoned veterans (and one excellent freshman) to take their shots and succeed. Five Panthers totaled points in the teens, and Paul Jesperson's (Jr-G) 9 always seemed to happen when they needed them the most (especially his putback in overtime).
When it comes to Deon Mitchell, he entirely deserves credit for the incredible three point play that tied the game for UNI and sent it into overtime. Beyond that, though, his 14 point performance needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Mitchell, one of the Panthers' many capable seniors, is a great athlete, but the team suffered when he tried to command offensive production.
In the closing moments of regulation, Mitchell had the ball the last three possessions, as point guard tend to do. In those possessions, he missed an uncontested layup, then tied the game on a great play, and then lost the ball with 1.9 seconds left. Fortunately for him, SFA wasn't able to turn that into points.
Mitchell continued to play at the beginning of overtime. The first possession he was fouled and made 1 of 2 free throws. He took the shot the next possession and was blocked. After Walkup made a smooth jumper to put SFA back up by one, Mitchell tried an ill-advised, off balance shot that didn't come close to scoring.
Coach Jacobsen took Mitchell out and replaced him with Wes Washpun (Jr-G) who had shot relatively well all night and ended up leading the team with 5 assists, but had 4 personal fouls. Washpun immediately contributes by making a slick assist to star Seth Tuttle (Sr-F) for a layup and foul to put UNI back up temporarily.
While Washpun would also later score 3 in overtime, the point isn't that Washpun is perhaps better than Mitchell or that he should have been starting earlier with 4 personal fouls. The problem is that Mitchell tried to run the offense through himself in the clutch moments instead of Tuttle or Marvin Singleton (Sr-F), who led the team offensively with 15 points with an efficient 5 of 6 field goals made. While Mitchell did have his own 4 assists, he took more shots than the rest of the starting five combined (16 shots compared to 14) and only made 3 of them. The bulk of his points came from an 8 of 11 performance from the line.
Deserving mention is UNI's Wyatt Lohaus, a freshman G from North Liberty, IA, who scored 11 with a .444 shooting percentage, including hitting both of his three point attempts.
Northern Iowa's next game is against the Morgan State Bears (0-2, with losses to Penn State and Towson) on November 20.
Stephen F Austin will next travel to Xavier on November 21, then travel to Baylor on November 24.