Aaron Craft’s lane violation on an intentional missed free throw attempt in the final seconds of Ohio State’s loss to Kansas Saturday brought deja-vu for University of Akron coach Keith Dambrot.
The Zips experienced the same scenario in the championship game loss to Ohio University in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, then again in their next game, a defeat at Northwestern in the National Invitation Tournament.
Trailing 76-73 against Northwestern, UA’s Quincy Diggs made his first free throw but missed the second. The ball bounced off a Wildcats’ player, giving the Zips possession, but Alex Abreu’s 3-point attempt bounced off.
Against the Bobcats, with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line and the Zips trailing by 3, Abreu was at the line and made the first free throw. On his second, he hoped to throw the ball off the back rim so center Zeke Marshall or forward Nik Cvetinovic could get it. But on Abreu’s intentional miss, it appeared Marshall tipped the ball in to tie the score with 3.9 seconds left. After the officials’ review, the shot was ruled a made free throw as UA fell 64-63.
That’s why Dambrot said what happened to Craft in the Final Four seemed “amazing” to him.
“I can’t even hardly remember any of those in my whole lifetime, then you see three of those in a month,” Dambrot said Tuesday.
“You’ve got practice everything. That’s what’s amazing about it.”
Kent State coach Rob Senderoff said the strategy has changed in recent years when teams are trailing by three in the final seconds. He said it has become much more common for the team leading to foul.
“Now more than ever before people are fouling late in the game as opposed to letting people shoot the 3,” Senderoff said. “That has a lot to do with why you’re seeing that. Five or 10 years ago people would not foul at the end of games.”
Senderoff said the Golden Flashes have practiced fouling in such a situation.
“We have not practiced the missed free throw very much,” he said. “We absolutely will practice the missed free throw for next year, no question about it. We have to.”