An afternoon of hard fouls, quick drives and some timely shooting brought TCU to a 3-0 start for the first time since the 2004-2005 season.Head Coach Neil Dougherty led his Frogs (3-0) through two overtimes before the final buzzer sounded with TCU on top of the UT Arlington Mavericks (2-1) 97-89.
“The kids continued to fight and grind and keep it up,” Dougherty said. “It is one of those wins where you are really gald you got it or you wonder how did you let it go.”
The first half had both the Frogs and the Mavericks facing some foul trouble as Doughtery had to adjust his game plan for how to use his players sparigly with the risk of fouling out.
The personal fouls against the Mavericks proved costly as their lead scorer on the season, forward Jermaine Griffin, had to sit out most of the first half after being charged with a technical foul within the first three minutes of play, Mavericks’ head coach Scott Cross, said.
“You hate to lose one of the better guys early on,” Cross said. “He came out two and a half minutes in and didn’t come back until there were 15 minutes left in the second half.”
The Mavericks continued to play hard in the first half while dominating in the paint with plays from their forwards Anthony Vereen and and Larry Posey.
“Those guys are tough players and they came through,” Cross said.
The 9-point Maverick lead soon was whittled away by the Frogs who fought back under the leadership at the point from junior Ryan Wall.
Wall started the Frogs’ comeback with a steal and soon had TCU sitting atop a 35-33 lead.
A free throw by with 28 seconds remaining had the game tied at 36 apiece as the teams went into the tunnel to prepare for the second half.
The Frogs were breathing new life in the second half as they jumped out to a 12-point lead and seemed to have total control of the game with points from junior shooting guard Brent Hackett and sophomore forward Kevin Langford.
The final 60 seconds of the game had TCU wishing their shots from the free throw line were more consistent in the second half as the 12 point lead was cut to just three with 18 seconds remaining.
“We didn’t reward ourselves on offense like we should have,” Dougherty said in regards to the 47 percent success rate from his free throw shooters in the half.
As the clock went to the final count down, Maverick shooting guard Brandon Long drained a three pointer that pushed the game into over time.
“I told them during the time out, once that shot gets in the air there is a chance it could go in, so you have to keep them from getting the shot,” Dougherty said.
Overtime had a host of heroes for the Frogs with clutch plays by freshman Keion Mitchem and by Ryan Wall.
With TCU trailing 80-78 in the first overtime, Mitchem made a huge steal and put away a lay up on a full court break away as the clock went into the final minute.
“Keion’s steal to help us draw even was huge,” Dougherty said.
The Mavericks let the Frogs remain even for only a few moments before point guard Ro’ger Guignard put the Frogs in comeback mode once again with a quick jump shot.
At this point Wall made a full court drive as he earned himself two-points from the paint with a gutsy drive through the Maverick defense.
“I was trying to draw a foul, but I didn’t get it, but I was lucky the ball went in,” Wall said.
This tied the game at 82-82 as the teams prepared for a second overtime and momentum in the Frogs’ favor, Dougherty said.
“Once we drew back even it became a grind and we played better in the second OT,” Dougherty said.
The second overtime had both teams battling for posession during the first two minutes until Brent Hackett made a three pointer from right corner to put TCU ahead for good.
Insurance points came from Femi Ibekunle who stood tall in the middle and added on to the lead with two points of his own.
Ryan Wall put the proverbial nail in the coffin of the Mavericks with some big second overtime freethrows.
“Back in high school I used to only score on free throws and layups,” Wall said, “but I just got fouled the most.”
Wall, Langford and Hackett led the scoring for TCU with 25, 20 and 15-points respectively.
“As ugly as it may have been, it’s still a W,” Wall said.
With the win, the Frogs make their winning streak over the Mavericks 10 games, and they prepare to take to the skies to take on the St. Mary’s Gaels on Nov. 21 in Moraga, California.