Mind-set fuels big comebacks in college basketball - USAToday.com

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rick Byrd admits there's no magic potion to apply when a team is down, apparently hopelessly, and time is running out on a chance for a comeback.

"Sometimes," the Belmont coach says, "it's just fate."

Whether fate, luck, perseverance or the answer to a prayer, Byrd's Bruins just about wrote the book on comebacks Friday when they rallied from a 75-57 deficit with 3:27 to play and stunned Campbell 87-84.

"The mentality of the two teams in a situation like that is entirely different," Byrd says. "When you've got the lead, you don't want to shoot quickly, and you don't want to foul. You almost have to play conservatively with a big lead. It's a sense of protectionism and conservatism against a sense of urgency. We had nothing to lose."

Belmont's stunning rally was one of several eye-opening comebacks in recent days.

In Belmont's rally, Campbell missed 11 of 20 free throws after taking the 18-point lead. But the Bruins got quite hot at the same time, scoring 30 points in the last 3:27, a pace that would have had them post 348 points in a 40-minute game. After going 2-for-24 from three-point range for the first 36 minutes, the Bruins made six of their final eight beyond the arc.

Matthew Dotson's three-pointer with 21 seconds left gave Belmont an 85-84 lead, its first advantage since 2-0.

"In over 30 years of coaching, I don't recall a game (that was lost) with that large a lead and that little time left," Byrd says. "It was a fun game to win, and it was the happiest our locker room has been all year. None of our players will ever forget it, and unfortunately for Campbell, they won't either. I felt sorry for them."