NCAA East Region: Hoosiers stare down defeat, pull out victory
DAYTON, Ohio – Indiana’s season, the one that’s supposed to end with confetti falling and nets coming down, was minutes from ending.
As the clock ticked down, Hoosiers coach Tom Crean wouldn’t allow himself to thing about defeat.
“That’s when you just pray,” he said.
Victor Oladipo hit a 3 with 14 seconds remaining, and the top-seeded Hoosiers, unable to stop Temple star Khalif Wyatt for most of the game, shut down the Owls’ star in the final 3 minutes of a 58-52 win Sunday in the East Regional.
Down four with 2:56 left, the Hoosiers (29-6) closed with a 10-0 run and made the Sweet 16 for the second straight year.
Wyatt scored 31 points to lead the Owls (24-10), who for 37 minutes gave one of tournament’s three remaining No. 1 seeds all it could handle before collapsing when it mattered most.
“We competed really hard,” Wyatt said. “We battled. A couple plays here and there, we win.
Oladipo, who drew the assignment of chasing Wyatt around the floor and needed plenty of help from his teammates, scored 16 and Cody Zeller added 15 for the Hoosiers.
“If they were in our league, they’d be fighting for a championship too,” Crean said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. They’re that good.”
After Oladipo’s long 3 put the Hoosiers up 56-52, Indiana had to buckle down on Wyatt, the Atlantic 10’s Player of the Year.
Wyatt was way off with a 3-pointer from the right wing with six seconds left and Indiana’s Christian Watford grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
With his hands on his hips, Wyatt walked dejectedly up the floor as Dayton Arena rocked and the senior pounded his chest.