TU basketball journalist Hannah Robbins discusses the fight on and off the court as TU men’s basketball snapped its two-game losing streak.
When the athletics department decided to market the basketball game on Wednesday as the “Rumble in the Reynolds,” they got more than they expected. Instead of the rumble just being between the Golden Hurricane and Husky players, the coaches decided they wanted to join the fun. With 11 minutes left in the second half, both head coaches were escorted off the court after what TU’s coach Frank Haith described as a “competitive discussion,” earning both teams two technical fouls.
The Golden Hurricane had a slow start, with Christian Vital of the Huskies starting the game with an easy layup, but around three minutes into the first half, Tulsa started to hit their stride with Jeriah Horne’s first three-pointer of the game. Horne was a driving force for Tulsa, scoring a career-high 27 points, going eight for eight at the line, three for four on three-pointers, and eight for 11 for overall from the field.
After a second three-pointer by Horne in quick succession, Tulsa started to pull ahead, but struggled to convert rebounds and turnovers into points. Their lead diminished, as they went two for seven in five minutes, finally giving the lead to the Huskies when Sidney Wilson drained a three-pointer with nine minutes left in the half.
From there, the Huskies and Golden Hurricane were neck and neck, but Wilson’s three-pointer was the last time UConn had the lead. Martins Igbanu’s dunk with six minutes left in the half sealed the Huskies’ fate till half time. While UConn tried to respond to Tulsa, shots by Horne and DaQuan Jeffries put Tulsa up by five as the half concluded.
As Tulsa entered the second half, they came back on the court with renewed energy. After a jumpshot by Igbanu and a layup and three-pointer by Curran Scott, Tulsa had doubled their lead. A key three-pointer by Sterling Taplin had Tulsa up by 17, which lit a fire under UConn for a time. UConn tried to answer, but fouls prevented them from getting within seven points of Tulsa.
For once, Tulsa decided to really lean into their theme for the day, and with Haith’s objection to a foul called on Jeffries with 11:19 left in the second half, both teams lost their head coaches in their own rumble.
Tulsa seemed to struggle after losing Haith. While UConn continued to try to cut their lead down with three-pointers by Vital and Jalen Adams, UConn’s high-scorer of the game who matched Horne’s 27 points, they were unable to whittle the lead down further than a half dozen.
With less than two minutes left in the game, the Huskies turned to a different strategy. Since both teams were already at ten fouls, fouls could only help the Huskies, preventing Tulsa from executing a play of their own.
On paper, this was good plan, but they underestimated Tulsa’s free throw skill: Tulsa went 26 for 36 at the line, making 70 percent of their free throws in the second half and nine for 11 in the last two minutes. Tulsa came out on top, and the loss of Vital with eight seconds left after his fifth foul ended any chance of a comeback, despite Adam’s buzzer-beater three-pointer. Tulsa ended up on top 89-83.