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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Wisconsin’s poorly executed final 15 seconds doomed its upset bid

The Dagger

That couldn't have been the way Bo Ryan drew it up.

A 25-foot 3-pointer as time expired after a lot of dribbling far from the basket couldn't have been the play with which Ryan sent his team onto the floor with about 15 seconds remaining.

But sure enough, that's the play Wisconsin ran as hot-shooting Jordan Taylor dribbled and dribbled and dribbled until the clock nearly ran out and he was forced to heave up a shot. The shot fell short as did the Badgers' dream of an Elite Eight berth as they lost to Syracuse 64-63.

Did I mention the Badgers were only down a point? That they still had a timeout? That they were in the bonus and that one of their better 3-point specialists, Jared Berggren, was waiting at the scorer's table to check in?

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But Wisconsin never called a timeout. Never got Berggren into the game. And Taylor never pushed his way toward the basket in an attempt to draw a foul and get to the free-throw line to, at the very least, tie the game.

"We had already called what we were going to run at the other end," Ryan said. "We had just run that same horns action for several good looks, and that's what we had called. So we had what we were going to run. If I had used a timeout, I wouldn't have called anything differently."

It was perhaps the worst 15 seconds of Wisconsin's season and certainly the worst of its tournament. But you can't blame Wisconsin for trying to win it with a 3-pointer and Ryan allowing his team to go that direction. The Badgers hit 14 threes in the game, including 8 of 9 to start the second half. However, the Badgers also missed their last five 3-pointers down the stretch.
[ Dan Wetzel: Syracuse keeps on surviving ]

The Badgers' greatest weapon, the one that made them poised for an upset, let them down when they needed it the most.

"When someone makes 14 threes against us we usually don't win," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "But we'll take it."

But this was seemingly not to be for Wisconsin. Even after Taylor missed the shot badly, the ball dropped right into the hands of Rob Wilson under the basket. All Wilson had to go was handle the ball and lay it in, but he fumbled it to Mike Bruesewitz, who took an off-balance shot that missed completely and ended the game.

"We played well enough to have this one on our side," Ryan said. "It just didn't work out that way."

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