A late-season, four-game conference winning streak had the University of Jamestown men's basketball team riding a wave of redemption toward the postseason.
That was two weeks ago, and following Saturday's crushing 101-92 overtime loss at home to Concordia University the Jimmies are limping into this week's Great Plains Athletic Conference postseason tournament. The Bulldogs outscored the Jimmies 11-2 in overtime after Jamestown let an 18-point, second-half lead slip away at Harold Newman Arena in what has now turned into a four-game losing streak for the orange and black.
Jamestown (18-12, 9-11 GPAC), earners of the conference's seventh seed, travels to play ninth-ranked Dakota Wesleyan (21-8, 13-7) in Mitchell, S.D., on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the opening round of the GPAC tournament.
"It's more just heart," said UJ senior guard Terrell Alfred, who buried eight 3-pointers and scored a game-high 28 points. "Toward the end, we just get into foul trouble, and once we get into foul trouble it's kinda like we start backing off a bit because no one wants to foul out. We just gotta play through it."
Foul trouble was one of many issues for the home team, which also included starters Jack Talley and Brock Schrom on the bench in street clothes. The 6-foot-8 Schrom hasn't played since Jan. 20, missing nine games to a back injury, while Talley -- who scored 31 in last Wednesday's 91-83 loss at Briar Cliff -- suffered an injury to his left foot in a recent practice.
Schrom said he won't be in uniform for the postseason following an MRI last week, and Talley said he's "highly unlikely" to play Wednesday after what he described as a stress fracture and ligament damage to his foot.
The tandem was sorely missed, as four Jimmies were carrying four fouls into overtime after Alfred tied the game at 90-90 with his eighth 3-pointer of the evening with 8.1 seconds to play in regulation. Meanwhile, UJ's 6-6 junior forward Brady Birch had already fouled out with 1:17 to play.
"It's been tough," Alfred said. "We could definitely use Brock's size and his athletic ability to block shots and run protection, and Talley's scoring and rebounding ability. We could've used it, but when those two guys go down it's next man up and we just have to fight through it and stay together."
Alfred buried 5 of 8 3-pointers in the first half, helping UJ lead 48-35 after the opening 20 minutes. But after ballooning the advantage to 58-40 early in the second half, Concordia whittled the deficit to 76-75 with 4:23 left in regulation behind a 10-1 run.
Concordia's Brevin Sloup erupted to score 23 of his 28 after the break, burying three 3-pointers and sinking 10 of 13 at the foul line. It was part of 66 points scored by the Bulldogs after the half, while UJ exchanged a field goal percentage of .559 before the break (19 of 34) with a field goal percentage of .357 the rest of the way (15 of 42).
"We just broke down defensively and started taking quick shots," said UJ senior guard Isaiah Dobson, who finished just behind Alfred and Sloup in scoring with 24. "This is kinda been what's going on lately is we try to play hero ball at the end of the day. We just have to play more as a team, move the ball and get the shots that we want like we did in the first half."
During the team's four consecutive losses, UJ has allowed 57 or more points to the opposition in the second half and has led at the half in three of the four. The Jimmies also fell to Northwestern (101-98) and No. 1 Morningside (111-85).
Following Alfred's clutch 3-pointer from the left baseline that momentarily saved the day, the Jimmies shot 1-for-7 with three turnovers offensively in the five-minute overtime.
Mason Walters scored two of his 19 points on UJ's first possession of OT. Walters also grabbed 10 rebounds, while Concordia's Justin Wiersema (19), Tanner Shuck (16) and Sam Scarpelli (11) also reached double figures in scoring.
It wasn't the final game at Harold Newman Arena that seniors Alfred, Dobson and Jack Frazier were hoping for, but the Jimmies aren't done.
"I feel like we can really turn it around because now it's a whole new season," Alfred said. "It's gonna be a brand new us. We're still going to the tournament and we can make things happen."
The Jimmies defeated Dakota Wesleyan 82-75 at the Corn Palace on Jan. 29. Jamestown will need to repeat as GPAC tournament champion to advance to the NAIA Division II tournament.
"We just have to want to win," Dobson said. "We just have to want to play with each other and play hard every single second that we're out there. I think we play together, we'll be just fine."
Concordia University 101, University of Jamestown 92 OT
CU 35 55 11 -- 101
UJ 48 42 2 -- 92
CU -- Brevin Sloup 28, Justin Wiersema 19, Tanner Shuck 16, Sam Scarpelli 11, Tanner Wubbels 7, Carter Kent 6, Klay Uher 5, Christian Wilke 3, Ryan Holt 4, Sammy Adjei 2. Totals: 31-60 FG, 10-27 3-pointers (Sloup 3, Shuck 2, Uher, Wiersema, Scarpelli, Wilke, Wubbels), 29-38 FT, 43 Rebounds (Holt 11), 17 Fouls, 16 Assists (Kent 4, Wiersema 4), 15 Turnovers, 1 Block, 10 Steals (Holt 4).
UJ -- Terell Alfred 28, Isaiah Dobson 24, Mason Walters 19, Brady Birch 9, Jack Frazier 6, Devan Praska 6. Totals: 34-76 FG, 12-33 3-pointers (Alfred 8, Dobson 3, Frazier), 12-19 FT, 38 Rebounds (Walters 10), 23 Fouls (Birch), 21 Assists (Dobson 7), 14 Turnovers, 2 Blocks (Walters 2), 4 Steals (Alfred 2).
Records: Concordia 21-9, 12-8 GPAC. Jamestown 18-12, 9-11.