In a heartbreaking 59-58 overtime loss to Stillman Valley Tuesday, Oregon had the game won twice but gave it away both times.
With the Cardinals out of timeouts and trailing 50-47 with four seconds left in regulation, all Oregon had to do was let Trevor Gerig score a 2-point basket and the game would be over. Gerig did score, but was fouled by Jessie McKinley. He also converted the free throw to send the game into overtime.
“Truthfully, we had about three guys that fouled him,” said a dejected Oregon coach Quinn Virgil. “Mentally, we took a step back tonight.”
In the overtime, the Hawks led 58-57 with two seconds left, but Gerig got free on an inbounds pass and made an easy layup as time expired for the win.
“It was the ‘pick-the-picker’ play,” explained SV coach Ray McCracken. “If you fall asleep, it’s an easy score.”
“We’ve been getting caught on the ‘pick-the-picker’ all year,” Virgil said. “We made poor choices down the stretch, both on the offensive and defensive ends. We took shots when we didn’t have to and were in wrong positions.”
The Hawks, who fell to SV for the second time this year, led by 11 points going into the fourth quarter. Spencer Bates, who out- fought Oregon players for offensive rebounds had seven points to pull the Cardinals to within 43-40 midway through the final quarter.
The rest of the way, the team traded baskets until Gerig’s (23 points) shot to send it to overtime.
“We showed spunk in that second half,” McCracken said. “It was our best win of the year, especially to go on the road in the Big Northern and do it.”
Oregon, which led 28-16 at half, started the third quarter out with six turnovers on its first seven possessions to allow SV 11 unanswered points.
“From halftime on, we coasted. We had no defensive intensity,” Virgil said.
The loss overshadowed another standout performance by Caleb Mowry who had 35 points, including all eight Hawk points in the extra session.
“He the best center around northern Illinois,” McCracken said.
It also put a damper on a brilliant start by Oregon, as McKinley had three steals in the first four minutes to help his team to a 13-2 lead. Later in the quarter, Oregon didn’t score, but Ian Holley had the prettiest play of the game on a no-look pass to Alex Cain under the basket.
“Hey, Oregon is a good team,” McCracken said.
The most exciting play of the game for Oregon came just as the third quarter ended as Billy Heeg, filling in for injured Alec Ketter, made a diving save out of the bounds to Sean Kessler. Kessler recovered in time to hit a tough shot at the buzzer to give Oregon a 39-28 lead.
After SV pulled to within 28-27 on its 11-point run, Cain drove the basket for two and was fouled and converted for 3 points. Mowry also chipped in with six points on that mini run.
In the fourth quarter, though, the Cardinals were the ones to come up with plays when they needed them.
“I’m so proud of this team. They are such hard workers,” McCracken said.
SV (7-10) moves to 2-5 in the BNC, while Oregon (11-9) falls into last place alone at 1-6. Besides Mowry with 35, no other Hawk player had more than five points.
“It was our worst loss of the year. This the first time we’ve blown it,” Virgil said.