Chris Webber’s infamous timeout in 1993 cost his Michigan Wolverines a chance at becoming National Champions. While the timeout the Bowdoin men’s basketball team called in their 69-66 loss on Sunday to Middlebury (5-3 NESCAC, 15-7 overall) did not cost the Polar Bears a title, the sentiment the loss left to a team shaping up to make a run in postseason play was similar in its anger and gloom.
The Panthers took a five-point lead heading into halftime and, while they never had more than an eight-point lead, were able to prevent the Polar Bears from making a big run early in the second half. Bowdoin finally cut the lead down to two with 11:27 left in the game and the score remained close as both teams exchanged baskets for the remainder of the half.
With eight seconds remaining, Jack Roberts of Middlebury hit a free throw to put the Panthers up by three. The Polar Bears called their last time out to draw up a play and hopefully send the game into overtime. And, with 2.2 seconds remaining, Grant White ’14 hit a game tying three from the left corner.
However, forgetting the team was out of timeouts, Head Coach Tim Gilbride called one to set up defensively for Middlebury’s last play. The illegal timeout warranted the Polar Bears a technical foul, which put Middlebury on the free throw line and gave the Panthers possession of the ball after the subsequent attempts. Middlebury missed one of the technical shots but made both of its next attempts after the Polar Bears were forced to foul immediately on the ensuing inbound.
“It was just a mess up on my part,” said Gilbride. “I thought we had a timeout but it was my mistake; we didn’t have it. Personally I felt worse than normal, but everyone else had their normal look after a tough loss.”
As for overall quality of play during the game, the team continued to find its rhythm offensively, only having trouble on the defensive side with the Panthers’ point guard.
“John [Swords ’15] played great, Grant really attacked well, and Andrew [Madlinger ’14], those three really had great, great games,” said Gilbride.
Despite the ending to the game, the Polar Bears remain ahead of Middlebury in the NESCAC standings and look to host a game as the No. 3 seed in playoffs. To do so, though, they need to get wins at Bates and Tufts today and tomorrow.
“For the Bates game they’ll probably end up playing their best game of the season and the place will be going crazy,” said Gilbride. “And then Tufts will be senior day for them so we’ll have two very intense NESCAC games we’ll have to be ready for—and I think we will be.”
“Our team is confident,” he added. “We know we can play with anyone.”