The execution was there in both instances -- at the end of regulation and overtime -- for the BayRunners yesterday against the Las Vegas Silver Bandits at Baltimore Arena.
It was just that the shots rimmed out for Shawnta Rogers, both times. The latter sealed the BayRunners' 104-103 loss, their seventh in a row.
BayRunners coach Herb Brown designed plays for Rogers to get open for what would have been the game-winning shots. The shot in regulation came from behind the three-point line with the game tied at 97 and 1.8 seconds remaining. guard Charles Thomas inbounded the ball to a wide-open Rogers, whose shot went a quarter of the way down before bouncing out.
A similar scenario repeated itself in overtime, this time with Thomas penetrating to the basket and dishing to Rogers, who was standing in the corner behind the three-point line. Rogers drew his defender up on a pump fake, took a couple of dribbles and unleashed an 18-foot jump shot that just missed.
"We just didn't knock down the shots," Brown said. "The kid had two open looks. If he did it again, I'd want him to take the two shots. The next time, they will go down."
Rather than focus too much on that last shot in overtime, Brown went back a couple of possessions when the BayRunners were down 102-101 with 1: 03 left in the overtime. They had played solid defense for 29 seconds of the shot clock, and Las Vegas was forced to inbound the ball with one second remaining.
Silver Bandits guard Isaac Burton took the inbounds pass and tipped it in over the back of BayRunners defender Monty Wilson, giving Las Vegas a 104-101 lead.
"It was a blatant push," Brown said. "We have everybody played, he pushes the kid and the ref doesn't call it.
"It is a shame we had to lose the game on that one play. You can say, `Well, they missed this or they missed that.' But it comes down to that one second left to play on the clock, and the ref can't miss that."
Forward Rodney Elliott, playing in his first game since suffering an ankle injury Dec. 12, made two free throws to cut the lead to 104-103 with 48 seconds left. Elliott finished tied for the team high with Monty Wilson, scoring 23 points.
It took a complete turnaround for the BayRunners to even put themselves in a position to win the game after trailing for the bulk of it by double digits.
The Silver Bandits came out on a 15-0 run to open the game, and the BayRunners trailed 54-37 at halftime.
"The main thing was that they are not as bad as the score looked in the first half," Silver Bandits coach Rolland Todd said. "Nobody ever is, not in this league. It is tough to hold a lead."
The BayRunners tied the game for the first time at 97 on Elliott's three-pointer with 1: 16 left in regulation.
"The thing was that we buckled down and got a couple of stops," said Wilson, who shot 9-for-11 from the field. "Once we did that, we turned the whole game around. Once we come out and start playing defense together, at the beginning of the game we won't dig ourselves that hole."
Brown got back Elliott from injury but lost guard LaBradford Smith, who reinjured his calf muscle and did not dress for the game.
Guard Brent Dabbs, playing in his second game with the BayRunners, started in place of Smith and scored five points.