Packers last shot comes up empty in loss to Scarlets

Published 10:12 pm Friday, February 19, 2010

Just when it looked like their hard luck might be passed them, the Packers, who have now lost seven games by five points or less this season, suffered another heartbreak Friday night.

Austin guard Jamaal Gibson’s three-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer rimmed out and Mankato West walked away with a 37-36 victory in Packer gym.

The Scarlets took the lead by running off two minutes of clock on their last possession before Matt Briggs drew a foul inside with eight seconds left. Briggs knocked down one of two free throws to make it 37-36.

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“The frustrating part is I wanted us trap out there and try to make a play instead of letting them pass the ball around and hold for one,” Austin head coach Kris Fadness said. “I’ve lost too many games in my coaching career where I let the other team hold for a last shot only to lose in the last five seconds.”

Austin did get aggressive late in the possession as Connor Gunderson, who scored 18 points, nearly came up with a steal with 18.7 seconds left. He deflected a pass, but it bounced out of bounds.

“If we get that, we get the ball with a tie game and we’re playing for a last shot,” Fadness said.

Mankato West (12-6 overall, 10-4 Big Nine) led by five for most of the second half but Austin tied the game up at 33 when T.J. Fritz hit a three-pointer from the wing with 5:25 left. Gunderson hit a free throw to put Austin (8-10 overall, 6-9 Big Nine) ahead 34-33.

After Austin Joey Swatfager missed a baseline three, West’s Preston Brunz, who scored 12 points, pulled down a rebound and hit Phil Nelson down-court who for a breakaway lay-up that became a three-point play when he was fouled.

“We didn’t get back on defense and that was probably the biggest play of the game,” Fadness said.

Fritz, who had seven points and four assists, scored off a lay-up on an in-bounds pass to tie the game at 36 each with 2:09 left.

Mankato West 21 16 — 37

Austin 19 17 — 36

Austin scoring: Connor Gunderson, 18; T.J. Fritz, 7; Tim Erickson, 6; Joey Swatfager, 2; Jacob Brehmer, 2; Matt Duren, 1; free throws: 50 percent (3-for-6); rebounds: 23 (Brehmer, 6); turnovers: 6

Mankato West scoring: Preston Brunz, 12; Des Spahn, 7; Nick Kaus, 5; Ethan Tramp, 5; Matt Briggs, 4; Phil Nelson, 3; Jack Mages, 1; free throws: 64 percent (7-for-11); rebounds: 23 (Briggs, 8); turnovers: 13