End of a Dream Season

Comets’ Historic NCAA Streak Halted in Overtime

March 15, 2009

The most accomplished season in UT Dallas men’s basketball history came to a heartbreaking end Saturday night in the “Elite Eight” of the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

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   Men's Team History and Stats

Guilford College (NC) rallied to defeat the Comets 64-59 in overtime and earn a trip to the national “Final Four” Tournament.

UT Dallas led throughout regulation game time and had its biggest lead at 12 points (50-38) with 5:27 left in the game. But the Comets could manage just five more points against Guilfords hard-pressing defense.

Meanwhile, the Quakers were able to piece together a run that got them back in the game, then set up guard Clay Henson to throw up an off-balance, 3-point shot at the buzzer that sent the game into overtime.

The momentum stayed on Guilfords side of the court, and the Quakers cruised in overtime to the five-point win.

“The coaches and team were very dejected,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel, who had flown to University Heights, Ohio, to watch the game.  “But I told them after the game how proud I was of their outstanding season and of them as individuals and a team.

“They represented UT Dallas in the finest sense – excellence in their effort, play, and sportsmanship.  They have set a higher standard for national competitiveness in our athletics program, further solidifying our national position as an institution.”

The Comets season ended with a 26-5 record, the teams best in program history.

UTD was led in scoring by Jimmy Witten, who had 16 points. Only Rodgers (10 points) was able to join Witten in double figures in the low-scoring game that featured both teams shooting around 40 percent.


Media Contacts: Bruce Unrue, UT Dallas, (972) 883-6308, bruceunrue@utdallas.edu
Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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The Comets, shown after winning the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament on March 1, had their best season in the 11-year history of the program. (Photo by Doug Fejer)

 

A Historic Year

The best season in the history of the UT Dallas men’s basketball program was punctuated by a number of highlights:

• It was UT Dallas’ first trip ever past the first round in the NCAA Tournament. The Comets qualified in 2005, but were eliminated in the first round.

• UT Dallas won the American Southwest Conference title by defeating five-time champion Mississippi College. The Comets received a first-round bye, then defeated longtime nemesis Trinity University (TX), 70-54, in the second round.

• Defense was an important part of the Comets' success. The team consistently held opposing teams to 40 percent or less shooting.

• The Comets played true “team” basketball with six different players leading the team in scoring in various games.

• Three UT Dallas starters and “sixth man” Scott Rodgers are honor students at UT Dallas. Jordan Eppink, Ernie Lowery and Jimmy Witten are all Academic All-Conference players, and Lowery was a first-team All-District selection in the Academic All-American voting.

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