Lukosius' 28 points lifts Bearcats to 73-72 overtime win over San Francisco

Survive and advance. That's what March is about.

Cincinnati surrendered a nine-point lead with 2:21 remaining in regulation, but the Bearcats opened the NIT Wednesday night with a 73-72 overtime win over San Francisco.

Simas Lukosius scored 28 points on 8-of-10 shooting from three, including the game winner with :4 seconds left in the extra period.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

"How about Simas Lukošius? He shot the heck out of the ball tonight. He's done that consistently here for a while. He was just terrific down there on the offensive end and made another big time shot," Wes Miller told media following the game.

"He knows this and our team knows this, but having somebody at the end of the game that wants the ball and wants the big moments, he has come through time and time again. I'm proud of that and of this dude."

Missed opportunities and turnovers would have been the storyline, if not for Simas' late game heroics.

The Bearcats made 11-of-30 three-point attempts but thirteen turnovers led to eighteen points for the Dons to keep UC from pulling away throughout.

San Francisco shot 50% from the field in the second half, including knocking down a game tying three at the end of regulation when the Bearcats got lost defensively and didn't foul when they had one to give. 

"I am not pleased with the way that we executed down the stretch with the lead," Said Miller. "We gave up a three with a foul to give because we couldn't get our defense set."

Malik Thomas, who sent the game to overtime with nine points over the final 2:06, led all scorers with 31 points on 5-of-7 shooting from three in a losing effort.

"He plays every game like it's his last," San Francisco Coach Chris Gerlufsen said following the game. " He's a competitor. He's wired the right way. He's been a great addition to our program.

Dan Skillings finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds while Jizzle James scored 11 points.

Jonathan Mogbo nearly had a triple-double for San Francisco, finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists. 

With the win, Cincinnati improves to 21-14 on the season and will meet Bradley on Saturday in a 2 pm tipoff back inside Fifth Third Arena in the second round of the NIT. 

"I'm happy for our team that we found a way to win," Miller told reporters. "I said to them that the hardest one to get is the first one. I really think that when you're playing in this event, or any of these events, that the first one is always hard. When you get through the first one, it gets to be a lot of fun. I'm glad they found a way tonight."

Game Recap:

Early on, San Francisco had it going from deep.

The Dons made three of their first five 3-point attempts and jumped out to an early 10-8 lead with 14:09 remaining in the first half.

Simas Lukosius scored five straight for UC out of the media timeout to give the Bearcats their first lead of the game, 14-13. 

Trailing 17-14, Dan Skillings drove and finished through contact to tie score at 17 with 11:50 left on the clock in the first half. 

Ndewedo Newbury scored six straight for SF to give the Dons a 21-17 lead following Skillings' bucket and free throw. 

Consecutive three's by Jizzle James and Simas Lukosius put the Bearcats back on top, 23-21. 

Lukosius buried his thrid three of the half and Jizzle James knocked down a step back jumper to extend Cincinnati's lead to 28-24 with 7:48 remaining in the half. 

Cincinnati would miss their next six field goal attempts over 3:01 as San Francisco leading scorer Jonathon Mogbo scored the next four points to give the Dons momentum and even things up at 28.

With 3:51 remaining in the half, Cincinnati was clinging to a narrow 30-28 lead, despite missing eight consecutive field goal attempts over 4:23.

Day Day Thomas ended the field goal drought with a three from the wing to extend the UC lead to 33-28 with 3:23 left. 

UC was held without a field goal over the final 2:24 and ended the half missing 10-of-12 field goal attempts.

Simas Lukosius and Dan Skillings combined for 22 points on 8-of-14 from the field to give the Bearcats a narrow 38-35 lead at the half.

 Simas Lukosius stayed hot to open the second half, burying his first three point attempt to extend the UC lead to 43-39.

Lukosius fouled Marcus Williams on the next possession on a three-point attempt but Williams missed one of the three attempts.

With 16:49 left in the game, UC led 43-40.

San Francisco made 4-of-5 field goal attempts and led 46-45 at the 13:39 mark.

The Bearcats missed six consecutive field goal attempts during a field goal drought that lasted four minutes, 9 seconds. 

Simas Lukosius ended a two minute six-second scoring drought with a three at the 10:06 mark to give Cincinnati a 50-48 lead. 

That Lukosius three would be the start of a 9-0 run over 4:49 as the Bearcats extended their lead to 54-48 with 7:32 remaining in the game. 

San Francisco missed eight straight field goal attempts and hadn't scored over the previous 5:11 as Cincinnati started to gain momentum and pull away. 

A Reynolds free throw and James step back jumper extended the lead to 57-48.

San Francisco answered with a 6-0 run to cut the UC lead to 57-54, but Lukosius ended a Cincinnati scoring drought with a corner three to push the lead back to six with 3:16 left in the game. 

Lukosius knocked down his seventh 3-pointer of the game with 3:02 left to push the lead to nine, 63-54. 

San Francisco made their next four field goal attempts to cut the UC lead to 67-64 with 1:18 left on the clock. 

Up three with :18 seconds left, Aziz Bandaogo missed the front end of a one-and one to set up a Malik Thomas three with four seconds left to tie the score at 67. 

Jizzle James' three-point attempt at the buzzer fell short to set up overtime and momentum firmly on the side of the visitors.

Malik Thomas opened the overtime period with another three to give the Dons a 70-67 lead, but that would be the only field goal SF would score in the extra period. 

San Francisco missed their final six shot attempts and didn't score a field goal over the final 4:40.

Trailing 72-70 with one last opportunity to extend the season, Simas Lukosius knocked down his eighth three of the game to give the Bearcats the 73-72 win.

Key Stats/Notes:

- It was a rough game for John Newman. The sixth year senior finished 0-for-10 from the field , 0-for-5 from three. On a positive note, Newman did pull down a team high nine rebounds to go with three assists. 

- Day Day Thomas was injured towards the end of the game and Wes Miller stated following the game that he was concerned about Thomas' ankle and they would do x-rays to see what the extent of the injury is. Thomas finished with 7 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. Thomas had been very good lately with protecting the ball but had eight turnovers tonight.

- Bandaogo pulled down six rebounds to go with six points. The big man has struggled from the free throw line throughout this off season. He has made just  four of his last ten attempts and missed the crucial front end of a one-and-one that would have put the game away in regulation tonight. 

- San Francisco outscored UC 36-24 in the paint. The Dons got 32 looks at the rim, converting 6-of-6 dunks and 11-of-26 lay ups. UC struggled to get stops when SF got in transition. 

Final thoughts:

Survive and advance. That's probably the best way to sum up the postgame thoughts. Cincinnati had stretches where they looked really good, and then had stretches where they struggled with turnovers, missed assignments defensively, and lack of execution offensively. With the win tonight, the Bearcats get another home game in front of Cincinnati fans that have struck by this team's side through the good and bad. One down. Four to go. 




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