In the 1998 NCAA tournament Valparaiso used a play named “Pacer” by then-head coach Homer Drew to get the team’s star guard, Bryce Drew, a look at a game-winning three pointer against Ole Miss. Of course the play worked, etching the Drew family into NCAA tournament lore and starting the Crusaders’ run to the Sweet 16.
In running a play similar to “Pacer” it certainly helps to have a player with height capable of not only catching the first pass but advancing the ball after doing so. In the case of UC Irvine Wednesday night, they were able to call upon 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye in the final seconds of regulation against Cal Poly.
Dominique Dunning threw the pass to Ndiaye, who was surrounded by two Cal Poly defenders. Ndiaye didn’t panic after making the catch, calmly finding an open Jaron Martin on the opposite wing. Martin hit the three-pointer, forcing overtime in a game the Anteaters would go on to win 78-72. Ndiaye finished the game with 21 points, eight blocks and four rebounds, with guard Luke Nelson also scoring 21 for Russell Turner’s team.
Ndiaye also had one assist, and it was the play that ensured that UC Irvine would have a chance to remain atop the Big West standings.
Video credit: Big West Conference
Wednesday night UC Irvine, the preseason favorite to win the Big West, moved to 6-0 in conference play with a 73-63 win at CSUN. With the host Matadors struggling (and dealing with a self-imposed postseason ban) the game was rather nondescript on the college basketball schedule. However it didn’t lack for excitement during the end of the first half, as there was both a poster-worthy dunk and a 70-foot shot.
The dunk was supplied by CSUN’s Tre Hale-Edmerson, who dunked on 7-foot-6 UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye to pull the Matadors to within three with 45 seconds remaining in the half (25-22). When you’re a shot blocker like Ndiaye you become a target of sorts, and on occasion the offensive player wins out.
Ndiaye and his UC Irvine teammates responded to that play with an 8-0 run to end the half, and the final three points came on an Alex Young heave from around 70 feet away from the basket. That gave UC Irvine all the margin they needed to take care of business and remain undefeated in Big West play.
Wednesday night’s matchup between UC Irvine and UCF matched the two tallest players in college basketball, with the height of UC Irvine’s 7-foot-6 junior Mamadou Ndiaye being equaled by that of UCF freshman Tacko Fall. Having a big man that tall can serve as an effective deterrent on the defensive end of the floor, with opponents deciding that they’d rather not attack the basket.
But it can also represent an invitation of sorts, with opposing players who think more of the highlight opportunity than the possibility of having their shot blocked deciding to try their luck.
UCF forward A.J. Davis (he’s 6-foot-9, by the way) saw an opportunity to drive baseline late in the second half and he took it, attacking the rim and throwing down a dunk over Ndiaye. Give Davis credit for attacking the basket, getting the Knights two key points in a game that eventually went to overtime.
But it’s a safe bet that he’d trade this highlight for the win, as Ndiaye and the Anteaters left Orlando with a 61-60 victory.
Video credit: ESPN3