Every basketball coach in the world, no matter the level of competition has told their team this: we can never take the foot off the gas.
When said, it might not be taken seriously.
But when the game has slipped through their hands and the team that was celebrating early is now walking the locker room with a loss, that same phrase keeps popping up the minds of each player.
Thursday, it was the UNC men’s basketball teams turn as it took its foot off the gas, losing 78-74 to Weber State in the first game of the Bears (2-3 Big Sky Conference, 11-7 overall) three-game homestand.
“We could have put the game away at any time, but we just didn’t get stops in the second half,” Jordan Davis said.
The turning point in the game was how WSU (3-1, 10-6) was able to get some easy baskets off the pick and roll.
Junior center Zack Braxton 13 of his 18 points from the pick in roll. The 6 foot 9 inch, 250-pound junior was almost unguardable when he got in the paint.
He forced UNC coach Jeff Linder to play musical chairs with his centers to try and contain the Weber State big man, but no one could.
The game got away from the Bears in the second half as they weren’t playing to win, but instead playing not to lose.
UNC went into the half with a 39-29 lead but came out in the second half leaving their energy in the locker room.
Senior Andre Spight finished a layup within the first few minutes to push the lead to 12, but after five minutes the well went dry for the Bears, as their lead shrunk to two only six minutes into the second half.
“In the first half, we were playing together and everybody was hype, but in the second half we just went completely flat,” Spight said.
UNC didn’t just struggle because of the trouble it had defending the pick and roll, but taking bad shots flatlined UNC.
Watching the game without knowing the score in the second half, it would have looked as if UNC was the team trying to fight back into the game.
Every possession looked rushed and forced, and Weber State was able to take UNC out of its offense and play at their tempo.
“We didn’t finish. We didn’t finish at the rim, at the foul line. You can’t go 12 for 21 and miss the front end of someone and ones and expect to win,” Linder said.
Spight led the bears with 20 points, but they didn’t come easy. He needed 17 shots to get that 20. Both Jordan Davis and Jalen Sanders had 12 points for the Bears.
The schedule doesn’t easier for the Bears, as Idaho State comes to Bank of Colorado Arena Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is scheduled for 2pm.