Game two of the Great Alaska Shootout yielded a second matchup of teams with differing resources. Both San Francisco and Dartmouth are both members of "the other 24" but Dartmouth, a member of the Ivy League, cannot offer athletic scholarships, something that members of 23 of "the other 24" can do.
San Francisco is one of those programs that can offer athletic scholarships giving head coach Rex Walters at least one advantage over their Ivy league foe.
Walters came from above the red line. As a member of the Kansas Jayhawks, he made it all the way to the Final Four in 1993. That's in stark contrast to Dartmouth, a team that has not seen the NCAA Tournament since 1958 and has never played in the postseason NIT.
In fact, the Great Alaska Shootout may very well be the only tournament the team plays in this season. Another oddity of the Ivy League is that they do not play a conference tournament where the survivor receives the league's autobid. Instead, the team with the best record in league play represents the league in The Big Dance. In fact, for Dartmouth, their participation in these exempt preseason tournaments has been their only tournament experience as the Big Green has not seen postseason play since that '58 appearance.
As the two teams took to the floor it was Dartmouth that took early control of the game. San Francisco did not score a single point through the first seven minutes of the game but Dartmouth could only muster eight. Neither team was particularly efficient on the offensive end and with four minutes left in the first half, the score was tied at 15.
From my shooting position on the baseline, I wandered over to Nate Sagan, the SID at the under four media timeout and asked, "What's the tournament record for the lowest scoring game?" He took a minute to flip through the media guide and informed me that the dubious distinction was held by Ohio State and Georgetown in a 47-46 game. It appeared that we were going to threaten the record.
Almost as if the two teams had heard my conversation with Nate, the two teams came out of the under four minute huddle and started putting points on the scoreboard. A three pointer from Dartmouth ignited a scoring barrage by both teams as they would combine for 21 points in the final 3:37 of the first half leaving San Francisco ahead 28-23.
San Francisco came out of the halftime break and would gradually build a 10 point lead midway through the second half. Dartmouth would spend the next six minutes cutting into that lead using solid defense, a couple three pointers, a three point play and couple more free throws, to cut the Dons' lead to just one at 58-57 with just under five minutes left. However, it only took San Francisco a minute and a half to build the lead back to eight and with just 1:05 left on the clock, the lead was seven points.
Dartmouth would mount a furious rally in those final 67 seconds and one of the most frustrating parts of our beautiful game unfolded. It took nearly 10 minutes of real time to play those final 65 seconds as the age-old strategy of trading threes for fouls and free throws and coaching emptying their timeout bucket. Those left in attendance at just past 11:00 saw the Dons' lead go from seven to four, back to six, down to three, up to four and down to one with 26 seconds left. Dartmouth would not hit another shot from the field in those final 26 ticks but would hit a free throw with five seconds left. That exchange would cause the Dons to call their final timeout prompting an announcement from the PA announcer, "San Francisco has called their final timeout. Neither team has any timeouts remaining." Mercifully, Dartmouth would not be able to foul in those final five seconds and USF would hold on for the two-point win.
SAN FRANCISCO 71, DARTMOUTH 69 11/23/2011
DARTMOUTH 1-3 (0-0) -- R. Griffin 6-12 2-2 17; D. Rufful 7-10 0-0 19; G. Maldunas 6-12 2-3 14; J. Trotter 0-2 1-2 1; J. Brooks 1-1 5-5 7; M. McKearney 1-4 1-2 4; J. Golden 0-4 0-0 0; M. LaBove 0-3 0-0 0; K. Crecco 1-1 2-2 5; T. Melville 1-1 0-0 2; N. Jackson 0-1 0-0 0; G. Bertasius 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 13-16 69. SAN FRANCISCO 5-1 (0-0) -- R. Green 5-11 6-7 18; M. Williams 7-14 6-8 23; C. Doolin 0-5 0-0 0; A. Caloiaro 4-9 7-7 16; D. O'Connor 4-7 0-0 8; C. Dickerson 0-1 0-0 0; P. Blackwell 1-6 1-3 3; A. Johnson 1-3 1-2 3; J. Raffington 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-57 21-27 71.
Three-point goals: DART 10-23 (K. Crecco 1-1; J. Trotter 0-2; D. Rufful 5-7; R. Griffin 3-6; G. Bertasius 0-1; N. Jackson 0-1; J. Golden 0-2; M. McKearney 1-3), SF 6-14 (R. Green 2-3; A. Caloiaro 1-3; M. Williams 3-6; C. Doolin 0-2); Rebounds: DART 28 (J. Brooks 6), SF 30 (R. Green 5); Assists: DART 19 (J. Trotter 7), SF 14 (R. Green 3); Total Fouls -- DART 22, SF 18; Fouled Out: DART-J. Brooks; SF-A. Johnson.