Anatomy of a failed play

Providence College lost a heartbreaker at home to Marquette, 65-64, in a game that came down to one fateful play.

To be fair, no game is won or lost on one play. There were missed free throws, untimely turnovers, a slow, lethargic start and miscues down the stretch that all contributed to the Friars’ loss. But the fact remains that, trailing by one, Providence had the ball with 24 seconds left and the chance to play for the last shot. Ed Cooley used a timeout to set up a final play and we break down the last sequence.


With 24 seconds on the clock, Rodney Bullock inbounds the ball to Junior Lomomba from the sideline. Note that Kris Dunn (red circle) is set up in the low post on the left of the basket. Marquette’s Haanif Cheatham (#25) turns to look for him as Marquette shows a 2-3 zone. In the postgame press conference, Cheatham says, “At first I thought they were going to use Dunn as a decoy when I saw him there.”


As Dunn moves out to the foul line, Bullock drops into the left corner. Lomomba has dribbled for 7 seconds at this point as Cheatham edges out towards him. Jalen Lindsey is wide open in the right corner.


Lomomba hands to the ball off to Dunn about 30 feet from the basket, Cheatham and Duane Wilson (#1) move towards him. Meanwhile, Lindsey is still all alone, but Cheatham is between Dunn and Jalen. There are now 15 seconds left.


As Ben Bentil moves out to chip Cheatham, Dunn begins to dribble to the left – right towards Wilson. Now Lindsey is really all alone as Henry Ellenson (#13) moves out after Bentil but Dunn is heading away from him.


Cheatham does a great job avoiding Bentil and jumps Dunn, forcing him to pick up his dribble as Wilson also is waiting for him and look for help. Ellenson is cheating a bit into the passing lane to Lindsey at this point. There are 11 seconds left.


He passes the ball to Lomomba with 10 seconds remaining and immediately looks for a return pass so he can reset, but one never comes. Bullock is now alone in the left corner but Luke Fischer (#40) is lurking. Ben Bentil is also calling for the ball at the foul line.


Here is where the play breaks down. Instead of returning the ball to Dunn or passing to Bentil, with 8 seconds left, Lomomba whips a pass to Bullock in the corner, but throws it low and to his left, forcing him away from the basket to catch the ball. Fischer and Sandy Cohen (#5) are moving towards him.


Trapped by Fischer on the baseline, Bullock dribbles quickly out of the corner and fires a cross-court pass to Lindsey, who is again wide open, with 6 seconds left. Had the pass been on target, Lindsey would have had a shot before Ellenson could close.


But Bullock’s pass is high, forcing Lindsey to go high to catch it and allowing Ellenson to slide over. There are 5 seconds left when Lindsey catches the ball and Cheatham has also moved in his direction.


Lindsey catches and passes to Dunn in one motion and with 3.8 seconds left, Dunn begins to drive to the right with Cheatham on him tightly. Wilson is moving over and his path is headed towards Ellenson.


Now Dunn is in trouble. He’s dribbled into a triple-team of Wilson, Cheatham and Ellenson at the right foul line elbow and there are only 2.6 seconds left. Lindsey is still open to his right, but getting the ball past Ellenson, who is long, would be difficult and the clock in Kris’ head is ticking.


With nowhere to go and too deep into the teeth of the defense, Dunn goes up for an ill-fated jump shot with 1.9 seconds remaining, but is blocked cleanly by the 6’10 Ellenson, who rebounds his own block and the celebration is on for Marquette.



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