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Desperation Bomb Sinks Cougars

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Published
December 20, 2008
By
Gary Pine
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AZUSA, Calif. – Devin Uskoski’s 53-foot desperation heave found nothing but net to lift unranked Rocky Mountain College to a 76-73 upset of No. 11 Azusa Pacific, Saturday evening in the Felix Event Center.

Uskoski’s good fortune capped a 25-point, 11-rebound effort by the senior center and highlighted a dramatic finish in which the Bears rallied from 3 down in the final 25 second with a pair of field goals that combined covered approximately 80 feet. After Azusa Pacific’s David Burgess sank 2 free throws to put Azusa Pacific up 73-70 with 28 seconds left, Rocky’s Chase Sukut buried an uncontested 25-foot jumper from the left wing to knot the score with 21 seconds remaining. Burgess was then fouled a put-back attempt with 4.3 seconds left, but he missed both free throws (2 of 8 that he missed on the night), including the second one out of a Rocky timeout. Uskoski collected the rebound, took 2 dribbles, and uncorked an improbable game-winning shot from about 12 feet beyond the half-court line.

Uskoski’s heroics offset a magnificent performance by Azusa Pacific’s Dominique Johnson, who matched Ukoski’s score with a career-high 25 points, scoring in a variety of fashions with dunks and 3-pointers, burying 5-of-7 shots from the arc.

Johnson registered 14 second-half points to highlight a Cougar comeback from a 10-point halftime deficit. In fact, Azusa Pacific opened the second half with a 15-2 run in which Johnson drained back-to-back treys to jettison the Cougars to a 48-45 lead.

From there the 2 teams battled back and forth with 8 lead changes and 5 ties over the final 15 minutes of the game. Johnson’s jumper with 2 minutes left gave Azusa Pacific a 71-70 advantage, and when Burgess converted on 2 free throws to push the Cougar lead to 3, it appeared that at the very least overtime would be necessary to determine a winner. However, the Cougars’ season-long Achilles heel reared again with Burgess’s consecutive miss-fires at the charity stripe, 2 of 12 free throws Azusa Pacific missed in the game.

Uskoski’s game-winning shot is the longest basket ever made in the 8-year history of the Felix Event Center.

Rocky Mountain led 43-33 at halftime on the strength of Uskoski’s 11 first-half points. The Bears put together a 9-1 run to assume a 22-15 lead with 12 minutes to go in the half. James Bullock opened the run with a lay-up off a nifty pass from DeAnthony Holmes. Bullock then capped the run with a trey. The Cougars closed to within 2 but again they struggled at the free throw line, missing 6 freebies in the final 10 minutes, which in turn allowed Rocky Mountain to scoot back out to a 9-point advantage.

Azusa Pacific didn’t make a field goal the final 3 minutes and short jumpbers by Uskoski and Nate Richardson gave the Bears their first double-digit advantage of the game to close the first half.

Burgess finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Mike Danielian added 11 points. Sophomore guard Mike Caffese chipped in with a game-high 8 assists to go along with 2 steals.

Sukut finished with 15 points to aid the Rocky cause while Bulluck finished with 12.

With the loss, Azusa Pacific’s first at home in 4 contests this year, the Cougars fall to 6-4. Rocky Mountain improves to 10-2.