There is something about Senior Day that brings out the best in a player.
Of course, there always seems to be fireworks on Senior Day, as well.
On Saturday afternoon at College Park Center, fireworks might be an understatement.
Follow a Jacob Nicolds dunk to tie the game at 69 with six seconds left, Aaron Cash cashed in a tip as time expired to lead UT Arlington to a 71-69 win over Utah Tech.
One might not call the first half entertaining. At one point between the under 12 media timeout and under 8 media timeout, the teams combined for just four points. However, things changed after that under 8 media timeout.
Back and forth the teams went, combining for 24 points over the next five minutes and change with UT Arlington holding a 28-27 lead with 3:22 left in the half.
Following a Frank Staine layup to make it 33-30, Brandyn Talbot hit the seventh 3-pointer of the first half for the Mavericks to tie things up with 47 seconds left.
However, after back-to-back turnovers by both teams, Frank Staine came up with a steal and a bucket to give Utah Tech a 35-33 lead at the break.
Back and forth it went throughout the second half. Aaron Cash began the half with back-to-back buckets for UT Arlington. However, Cam Gooden and the Trailblazers responded every time.
Utah Tech actually pushed the lead to seven on a Tanner Christensen putback with 10:42 to pay.
But, the Mavs responded in kind with a 10-0 run capped off by back-to-back 3-pointers from Kyron Gibson and Brandyn Talbot. Talbot’s 3-pointer gave the Mavs a 59-56 lead with 5:12 to play.
Utah Tech responded with a 5-0 run to take a 61-59 lead 2:13 to play.
Neither team scored over the next 90 seconds.
With 25 seconds to play, Aaron Cash took a Kyron Gibson pass and hit the layup and got fouled. In fact, Cash was going to the free throw line for the first time all night for the Mavericks. Yes, for over 39 minutes on Saturday afternoon, UT Arlington did not shoot a free throw.
Unfortunately for UT Arlington fans, Cash missed the free throw and chaos ensued.
Cam Gooden’s jumper with three seconds fell just short and fell into the hands of Aaron Cash.
The UT Arlington grad found fellow grad teammate Pedro Castro who put up a 3-pointer as time expired.
Loud, louder and loudest.
Then the air came out of the building for a moment as Castro’s shot hit the back iron and bounced off.
Free basketball at College Park Center.
In the overtime period, if you can believe it, free throws proved to be the difference. Considering UT Arlington’s first free throw attempt of the afternoon came with 25 seconds left in regulation, it’s quite the storyline.
UT Arlington went 4-4 from the charity stripe in overtime. Utah Tech went 2-4.
It was all part of the plan, apparently.
It led to the wild ending.
Out of a quick 30-second timeout, Jacob Nicolds found his way into the lane for a dunk to tie things up at 69 with six seconds to play.
UT Arlington got the ball in the hands of Marlon Humphrey, who made his way down the floor in a hurry.
Humphrey’s floater bounced up and somehow, falling away, Cash got enough of a tip to get it back over the rim.
— WACHoopsDigest (@WACHoopsDigest) February 25, 2023
Loud, louder, and loudest.
College Park Center went nuts as Cash’s tip-in was good and the Mavs walked away with the 71-69 win.
Cash had a team-high 17 points, all of which came in the second half. Brandyn Talbot added 15 points and Pedro Castro finished with 14 points. The Mavericks hit 11 3-pointers in the win, the fourth time in four games the Mavs have hit 10-plus 3-pointers.
Jacob Nicolds led all scorers with 18 points. Cam Gooden finished with 17 points and Tanner Christensen had 10 points for the Trailblazers.
UT Arlington improves to 11-18 overall and 6-10 in WAC play. The Mavs go on the road to finish their first season in the WAC. UT Arlington finishes at Utah Valley on Wednesday and at Seattle U on Friday.
Utah Tech falls to 12-17 overall and 4-12 in WAC play. The Trailblazers Seattle U on Wednesday and Grand Canyon on Friday.