All three Bahamians are out of the 2022 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The last Bahamian to be eliminated was center Fredrick King as he and the University of Creighton Bluejays fell to the San Diego State University Aztecs, 57-56, at the YUM! Center in Louisville, Kentucky, in Elite Eight action on Sunday.
Bahamian head coach for the eighth seeded University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Lady Rebels Yolett McPhee-McCuin and her team fell 72-62 in the Sweet 16 to the number five seeded University of Louisville Cardinals. That game was played at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington, on Friday. Sports Performance Assistant Coach Bryan Clarke Jr. and the number one seeded University of Houston Cougars were not able to hold off the fifth seeded University of Miami Hurricanes as they lost 89-75 in Sweet 16 action at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri, on Friday.
It was not the ending that King and the Bluejays were hoping for. The Aztecs went to the free throw line with 1.2 seconds left in the game with the score tied at 56 points. They split the free throws and a full-court inbounds pass by the Bluejays did not go their way as time expired and the Aztecs made their first trip to the NCAA Final Four in school history.
The Bluejays could not hold on to the 33-28 lead they held at the end of the first half. It was a back and forth affair in the second half and it went right down to the wire as both teams were looking to play in the Final Four.
King, a freshman, played three minutes on the floor and was only able to tally two rebounds. It’s the end of his freshman year and the South Andros native finished the season averaging 3.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. He shot 61 percent from the field and averaged 8.4 minutes in the 37 games he played this season, starting three times.
The Bluejays finished the season with a 24-13 win/loss record that includes a 14-6 Big East Conference record.
The tale of the game for McPhee-McCuin and the Rebels was their shooting from the field as the Cardinals shot the ball at 45.1 percent. The Rebels shot a dismal 37.1 percent from the field and only made four shots from deep.
The Rebels jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead to start the game. However, that lead was quickly erased. The Cardinals took their first lead of 14-13 at the 3:11 mark of the first quarter. The Cardinals led 20-15 heading into the second quarter.
An 8-0 scoring run by the Rebels cut the deficit to win 24-23 at the 5:20 mark of the second period. Ole Miss took their final lead of the game at 29-27 with 3:41 left in that period. The Cardinals took the lead for good on the next possession and went into the half with a 34-29 lead.
The Rebels’ shots were not falling in the third quarter as they went 4-for-13, shooting 30.8 percent from the field. They never recovered from that quarter and eventually lost that game.
The loss brought an end to their coming-out party at this year’s tournament that included the slaying of a giant, number one seeded Stanford University, in the Seattle 4 Region in the second round. It was a good season for the Rebels as they were able to win a program best 11 wins in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). They ended the season with a 25-9 win/loss.
Clarke and the Cougars were the last number one seed in the tournament to fall. Their early exit marked the first time in tournament history that the final eight teams did not have a top seeded team since seeding began in 1979.
The Hurricanes started strong early, taking a 7-2 lead at the 16:56 mark of the first half. The Cougars took a 10-9 lead at the 15:15 mark. At the end of the first half, the Hurricanes led, 42-36.
The second half was not kind to the Cougars as they trailed by as much 17 points. They were unable to make a run as the Hurricanes got the win.
The Cougars finished with a 33-4 record and a 17-1 record in the American Athletic Conference.