After being fouled by sophomore forward Christian Jurlina with five seconds left in the game, Emory junior guard Davis Rao hit both shots from the free throw line to give the Eagles a one-point lead. A last-second 3-pointer from junior forward George Valle missed the mark and left the Pirates on the wrong side of a one-point deficit to end their tournament run. Despite 6-10 shooting from the field and 9-11 shooting from the strike for Valle and senior Adam Wilks’ 10-13 shooting from the field for a career-high 21 points to go with 11 rebounds, the Pirates could not keep the Eagles at bay.
“Adam did a really good job for us. He played the best basketball of his career that night,” head coach Matt Logie said.
Whitworth led Emory by three, 40-37, at the half with 26 of those Pirate points coming from the paint. However, Emory managed to keep their bench involved and put up 21 of their 37 points from bench play.
Points off the bench proved to be a key factor in keeping the Eagles around in spite of slim Whitworth leads in the last ten minutes of play. Sophomore guard Jonathan Terry put up 22 points off the bench and finished behind his teammate, senior forward Alex Foster, who was able to hit from all over the court as part of his 30 points and nine rebounds.
Foul trouble proved costly for both teams in the closing minutes but turned out to hit the Bucs hardest. Valle, senior forward Taylor Farnsworth and Jurlina all hit foul trouble early and spent significant second-half time on the bench. Jurlina fouled out with five seconds to play and was not able to make a run at the last-second shot opportunity for the Bucs.
“I think it affected our rotations. I think we got to a point in the game where we had some guys in foul trouble playing down the stretch and they may not have been in the game under normal circumstances,” Logie said. “We had to be a little bit more passive defensively and I thought it was harder for us to defend the rim and protect the paint down the stretch because of that.”
Farnsworth, who was limited to four points in nine minutes in the Emory loss has been dealing with a broken thumb for most of the season in addition to a leg injury he sustained in the last few weeks, Logie said.
“Taylor really just didn’t get in a rhythm whether it was fouls or just unfortunate circumstances. It was just one of those weekends for him and that happens,” Logie said. “You hate to see that happen to a senior, but we wouldn’t [have gone as far as we have] without Taylor Farnsworth and what he’s meant to our program.”
The Pirates finish the season 25-4 after going 15-1 at home and winning both the NWC Championship and the NWC Tournament Championship.