We took a week completely off just because… We needed it. Big time. We had a blast at the tournament, seriously couldn’t have had more fun, we loved every second, but the season was exhausting and we knew we intended to write about Point Loma as far as they go, and so… It makes enough sense to talk about the Sweet 16 game today, right before we preview Point Loma in the Elite Eight.
And so… Let’s discuss.
#1 PLNU 60 vs. #3 SMU 54
First and foremost, credit to SMU’s defense. Second: this game was nothing like we expected it to be. We expected Point Loma to come out swinging and at full strength, similarly to their dominance of UCSD two nights earlier. We similarly expected that SMU had finally found their offensive rhythm against SPU and so they would be at at their best as well. We expected that Point Loma would eventually win by 10 or so points, in the realm of 85-75. And yet the fact was: SMU had almost zero offense, kept themselves in it on defense, had every opportunity to win, and yet as somewhat expected: their collectively low basketball IQ made it impossible.
Now, the fact is, everyone was tired. It’s a long season. We were excited for the game and definitely running on adrenaline, but it’s hard to get your body to function as well as you need it to, in our opinion especially after one day of rest. An object at motion stays at motion, but you throw in that day of rest with the compounding exhaustion of the season on top of it, and… Instead of things getting better, they get worse.
That said, SMU should have found a way to win. An all-world Point Loma team was within reach the entire time and SMU couldn’t close the deal, which leaves such a bitter taste in our mouth. Not that we think SMU would have made noise in Indiana (we think PLNU has a way better shot) but in this Sweet 16 game SMU was rarely down more than two possessions and PLNU’s largest lead of the night was 10, despite a massive home court advantage. The difference is when a high basketball IQ team is playing terribly, they still move the basketball and trust each other to get the best shot. SMU kept trying to pick-n-roll and against the larger Point Loma team, it was almost impossible. Low basketball IQ decisions all night long.
We love SMU, we really, really do, but there’s a reason that Jordan Kitchen put up the best numbers: He comes from Seattle Prep. He’s been playing and been expected to play fundamental high IQ basketball for years and years. Because of that… On the one hand, the Saints were always in reach, but on the other hand it never felt like they were actually going to win.
SMU highlights: Jordan Kitchen had nine points and five fouls; and EJ Boyce had six assists. Off the bench BJ Standley had 10 points; and Tavian Henderson went 5-6 and finished with 10 points.
PLNU highlights: Preston Beverly had nine boards; Tanner Nelson had seven boards; Ziggy Satherwaite had seven boards and 15 points; Daulton Hommes had 25 points and five boards; and off the bench Sterling Somers had eight boards.
The Sea Lions collectively out-rebounded the Saints 40-27.
The Saints managed to have a mere SEVEN turnovers, while the Sea Lions had a whopping 15.
Numbers-wise at a glance, this game looks like a defensive grind-it-out, but… Honestly: Point Loma’s defense wasn’t that good, SMU was just missing everything and taking a bunch of terrible shots on bad mismatches.
The good news is… Queens University of North Carolina looks similarly exploitable.
And so… Congrats to SMU on a good season, congrats on making the Sweet 16, and congrats to all of their seniors on great SMU careers.
This is going up later today than we intended, and we’re going to preview Point Loma in a separate post, so that’ll be up hopefully by 5pm, and then we’ll be live-tweeting PLNU vs. Queens starting at 6:30pm.
Congrats to all eight teams on a fantastic Regional.