In a truly wild basketball game that featured countless momentum swings and one incredible finish, the Touro University Nevada Matadors beat The Touro University California Bulls 71-70 in The Big Game.
The Matadors’ victory marked their eighth in the last nine years, including the last five years in a row.
Playing in front of an energized, Star Wars-clad home crowd, TUN’s theme for this year’s game, the Matadors were evenly matched with the Bulls midway through the first half. The Bulls, led by Taurean Gibson from the Graduate School of Education, began to pull ahead in the final minutes of the first half, ending the half with a 37-28 lead.
The second half, however, played to a much different tune.
As they worked the ball down low and utilized the bigger bodies of Ky Raymond and Julian Franko, both from the Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Matadors began to chip away at the Bulls’ double-digit lead.
“I thought we started playing much more physical and were rebounding a lot better,” Raymond said. “Our shots were also falling, so we had a lot going for us in the second half.”
With eight minutes to go in the game, TUN and TUC were tied at 53 apiece. The Matadors, while continuing to dominate under the rim, forced several turnovers by the Bulls.
With the clock winding down, the Matadors began to pull away. Grasping to a 71-67 lead with only two seconds left on the clock, TUN committed a costly foul on TUC’s Josh Moen behind the 3-point line. After making the first two free throws, Moen intentionally missed the third, where he grabbed his own rebound and drew a foul with less than one second to go and a chance to tie the game.
After making the first free throw, Moen’s second foul shot bounced around before finally falling off the front of the rim, giving the Matadors a huge sigh of relief and a 71-70 victory.
The Matadors’ bench stormed the court in excitement, followed by the elated students who just watched the incredible ending unfold.
“It couldn’t have been any closer with that final free throw falling right off the front of the rim,” said Raymond, who played one year of Div.-III college basketball at Southern Virginia University before coming to Touro. “It was unbelievable.”
“I was really impressed with the way our team responded in the second half,” said first-year head coach Steve Liaos. “There were some tense moments at the end of the game, but I’m just thankful it ended in our favor. I was glad I was able to help uphold the winning tradition at Touro University Nevada.”
In addition to the thrilling Big Game victory, the Touro University Nevada dance team defeated the Touro University California dance team for the first time.
Next year’s Big Game will be the 10th in the rivalry’s history. The Matadors lead the series, 8-1.