Arizona basketball’s Tommy Lloyd disappointed by late-game execution in loss to Princeton

Mar 16, 2023, 8:30 PM | Updated: Mar 17, 2023, 7:14 am

Arizona basketball head coach Tommy Lloyd felt his squad let Princeton hang around in Thursday’s first-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament, a 59-55 loss for the Wildcats.

The No. 2 seed Wildcats saw a 12-point lead dwindle to 55-52 with just under four minutes to go, but they still had plenty of opportunities to close out their No. 15 seed counterparts.

Arizona’s execution was “a little disappointing” down the stretch in Lloyd’s eyes, as it went 0-for-7 from the field to be outscored 7-0.

“They made enough plays down the stretch and we didn’t,” Lloyd said postgame. “I’ll tip my hat to them.”

The Wildcats’ six offensive possessions leading to their final chance went as follows:

  • Pelle Larsson was blocked by Caden Pierce, who had four fouls.
  • Courtney Ramey missed a deep 3.
  • Ramey turned it over trying to force the ball to Azuolas Tubelis while driving baseline.
  • Kerr Kriisa’s pass inside was stolen.
  • Ramey was blocked by Ryan Langborg out of bounds, Arizona called timeout and Tueblis missed a hook shot with his left hand.

The Wildcats trailed 58-55 when Ramey took a deep, contested 3 with 13 seconds in the game, which he airballed.

Oumar Ballo kept the play alive by saving the ball from going out of bounds, but Kriisa then missed a contested 3 with approximately seven seconds left.

Princeton secured the rebound, and the game was over after a free throw on the other end.

“We got the ball in front of the rim a couple times and didn’t deliver,” Lloyd said. “I didn’t think our end-of-the-game execution, our poise was what it has been in close games. That’s a little disappointing.

“Recently we’ve kind of struggled in that area a little bit and kind of let people back in the game. If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.”

Princeton finished both halves on extended runs, as it used an 8-0 stretch to end the first half and cut the Arizona lead to 31-30.

Tubelis said he felt Arizona needed to do a better job taking care of the ball and not rushing into shots.

The Wildcats turned the ball over 13 times to Princeton’s 11, and Tubelis had six of his own.

“My thoughts are now just to get better, take some time off and get back in the gym,” Tubelis said. “I have no idea when I’m going to play, what I want to play, what to do. We just lost a tough game so you can’t really expect an answer right now.”

Lloyd said he’s excited about the direction of the program after his second season in charge, despite the difficult loss.

Arizona won the Pac-12 Tournament in each of the last two seasons but fell in the Sweet 16 last year.

Lloyd called Thursday a “small setback” and said he would be hard on himself to improve.

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Arizona basketball’s Tommy Lloyd disappointed by late-game execution in loss to Princeton