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Posted on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 : 11:02 p.m.

Wisconsin's Josh Gasser tops Michigan basketball team with a buzzer-beater, 53-52

By Michael Rothstein


Michigan sophomore Darius Morris and the Wolverines walk off the court after Wisconsin used a last-second basket Wednesday to beat Michigan, 53-52, at Crisler Arena.

Melanie Maxwell |

Updated 11:02 p.m.

They walked dejectedly off the floor, up the Crisler Arena tunnel and filed into the locker room. Hardly a word was uttered, but everything you needed to know was all over their faces.

What could members of the Michigan basketball team say?

There was certainly little they could do about a banked Josh Gasser 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 53-52 Wisconsin win at Crisler Arena on Wednesday night and perhaps the difference between an NCAA Tournament appearance and an NIT bid for the Wolverines.

Inside the locker room, players said little. Sadness and shock coursed through Michigan players and coach John Beilein entered the room faster than a typical post-game. He had to say something to pick up a team that has endured this kind of heartbreak before.

Beilein had to do damage control on a young team, telling them they couldn’t sulk, that their season hadn’t ended. For the moment, though, it felt like it.


Wednesday night's late-game heartache felt like a repeat Michigan (17-12, 7-9 Big Ten) had watched too many times.

There was Michigan State in Crisler Arena a season ago, when Michigan lost on a rimmed-out layup at the buzzer. Then Evan Turner and Ohio State ended Michigan’s season with a half-court buzzer beater at the Big Ten Tournament. And last week, Michigan lost to Illinois when Stu Douglass missed an off-balance heave at the buzzer.

“Just silent, you know” sophomore guard Josh Bartelstein said of his post-game surroundings. “A little bit of shock.”


  • First Star: Josh Gasser, Wisconsin
    The freshman guard, who had a triple-double earlier this season, didn't have his best night Wednesday, scoring five points and grabbing four rebounds. But when he needed to make a play, he did. And it was the one that won the game.

  • Second Star: Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin
    The junior All-American candidate kept the Badgers in the game when no one else could make shots. He scored 20 points, had five assists and one turnover (right around his 4.13 assist-to-turnover ratio for the year) and made the pass through a double-team to find an open Gasser on the final play.

  • Third Star: Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
    The freshman impressed Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan with his 16-point, four-rebound performance. Hardaway hit two critical 3-pointers in the second half, one to give the Wolverines a 45-42 lead and again with 3:49 left to give the Wolverines a 50-48 lead.

  • Readers’ choice

Shock is understandable. Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor took an inbounds pass on the final Badgers' possession — the one Michigan milked from 31 seconds down to 6 by exhausting all of its fouls to prevent a set play — and read a double-team to find an open Gasser.

Gasser didn’t have time to set up as he caught the ball with a single second left on the clock. He just let the ball go, a heave toward the rim.

“When it left my hand, I thought it was going to bank in,” Gasser said. “And it did, so that’s pretty funny.”

Funny for No. 12 Wisconsin (21-6, 11-4), which marches toward the NCAA Tournament behind the play of Taylor, who scored a game-high 20 points. Devastating to Michigan, which again came tantalizingly close to beating a top 15 team after close losses to Kansas, Ohio State and Syracuse.

That’s the difference in one shot, in one attempt at a tip by Douglass to deflect Taylor’s pass out of the double team.

Maybe Douglass had the best clue. He’s seen this type of thing happen before to Michigan, too many times for him to want to remember.

“I had a bad feeling, actually,” Douglass said. “I thought I had the ball when Taylor crossed over left to right and when he went to pass it, I don’t know.

“I didn’t expect him to bank it, though.”

No one could have. Even Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said as Gasser let it go he knew the only way the shot had a shot was if it banked off the backboard.

A little harder or softer and Michigan would have been celebrating a tournament resume-building win. Instead, it suffered in near silence.

“Horrible,” freshman forward Evan Smotrycz said. “I was talking to Matt (Vogrich) and he said ‘I wish he just made it without banking it.”

Some how, some way, that might have given Michigan a sliver of solace.

Instead, sophomore point guard Darius Morris, who missed the front end of a 1-and-1 foul shot on the Wolverines’ last possession, stood motionless on the floor just like Michigan players did after Turner shot Michigan to the off-season last season. No one knew what to do.

One shot erased an entire night of good play against a top team. It took away a 66.7-percent first half shooting performance, a 62.5-percent second half performance from the 3-point line and a game where Michigan held Wisconsin to 36.2 percent from the field. It took away the significance of a 16-point night from freshman guard Tim Hardaway Jr.

All of that disappeared with one heave, possibly because Michigan played defense well enough to take away the back-door cut Gasser looked for before flashing out to the right wing for a 3-point attempt.

It was one shot that sucked the energy out of Crisler Arena, out of Michigan’s players and out of the chance for a Top 25 win to bolster the Wolverines’ NCAA Tournament hopes.

“All the excitement and all the everything, all the adrenaline that you put into the whole game,” Douglass said. “Thinking for it to come down to one shot that goes in, that banks in like that.

“Excitement just rushes out of you.”

Even for Beilein, who has coached for 33 seasons and played as a high school and college player before that, Wednesday was a little jarring.

“I haven’t lost too many,” Beilein said. “On a banked shot like that.”

Michael Rothstein covers Michigan basketball for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

I give JB another couple years to develop this team. Bulk up Horford and Smotrycz and PLEASE have Smotrycz work on his quickness.. If I may paraphrase Dean Wormer: "Son.. tall, skinny and slow is no way to go through your Big Ten career." The athletic department is investing heavily in a state-of-the-art practice and training facility as well as significant improvements to Crisler Arena. You cannot overvalue that in recruiting. Juxtaposed with other programs, Michigan has been lagging over the past couple decades. Any prized recruit coming here after visting East Lansing couldn't help but think that Michigan looked like a second-tier program. With the new facilities, that will no longer be the case.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

EVERYBODY KNOWS ---- You got to make your FREE THROWS! If we did ... the last shot would not have been an issue. We got away with it the last home game. If it does not get corrected ... well... we all know ...


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

So, they took the two best teams in the conference down to the wire, and Kansas. If things go a little differently they have could have three very nice winds behind them. Think forward instead. Those losses prove they can play with the best and that they could possibly run the table in the Big Ten Tourney. If they win that they are in the Big Dance.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

Just a crushing defeat. Morris missing the front end of a one on one created the opportunity for shlt to happen and it did.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

..and as for the player quote..don't play with "bad feelings.." Go Blue! v


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

throw-up bank on my birthday?!? sheesh.. well..the only thing to do for Snakebite- suck out the venom and spit it out..and MAKE FREE THROWS! least concentrate like you really NEED to make them.. season not over out Go Blue! v


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Well, there's always the Big Ten tournament.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 6:31 a.m.

Young teams have to learn the importance of each possession/free throw etc. With that said it has still taken a little luck for some very good teams to beat our inexperienced, picked to finish last or next to last group of cagers. This loss hurts as it should. This is the type of loss that determined players feed off of. A loss like this can push a player/team to work that much harder and reach a level they didn't know was there.

Russ Arthur

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 5:54 a.m.

This is the first time I've wandered over to the U-M side, being a State Grad, but y'all have a really good young team and it's just a question of learning to win. Plus that stupid shot should never have gone in. The U-M/MSU game should be a good one

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 4:37 a.m.

It didn't fall against Illinois. It fell against them tonight. In both cases, you make your free throws, you don't have that problem in the first place. This is a team with three exceptional young players who don't quite know yet how to win big games.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 4:26 a.m.

I was there tonight. Game well played by the Wolverines (for the most part). Hardaway and Morris really impressed me tonight, except we need to work on hitting those free throws! I think I speak for almost everyone in the arena tonight when I say I was utterly shocked by that buzzer beater.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 3:41 a.m.

Brutal loss! You gotta be kidding me! This team is just not talented enough to pull these games out. They are missing free throws, and they can't even get a shot off against a desperate defense and they don't have a guy who can create and hit a big shot when needed. Hardaway will get there soon, which is a ray of hope. We need to win our last two games and make a run to the BBT semi's to have any shot. Other wise its an NIT home game.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 3:25 a.m.

This is not progress. Year four and another no NCAA. It is time for a change. Year 2 was nice but then year 3 a disaster and now year 4 empty. Giving more time here would have been like giving RR more time. If Mr. Brandon cares about BB he will proceed with another coaching search. Not having players prepared to shoot more than 50% from the free throw line is not acceptable. Not bringing in the talent to finish in the top three in big 10 not acceptable. Using the "young card" not acceptable when the player of the year very well may be a freshman. Plus remember what Fisher did with 5 freshmen? Final game. Not just making the tourney. How much have we paid in the last year for each NCAA tourney win? Answer too much!


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 3:22 a.m.

Tough loss. But bottom line is: if you hit your free throws, you win the game.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

This is the second time our defense has given up a three-pointer to beat us in the last seconds. The other time was against OSU in the Big Ten tourney. I don't know if this is Beilein's fault or the players, but it's just ridiculous, all you do is play man defense, if they make a contested three then that's it, at least you didn't give it to them. I didn't see the whole game so I can't comment on how they played or the free throws, but I can't imagine how annoyed the fans were, you never leave anyone wide open on a last second shot. Most teams don't even double LeBron James on a last second shot, unless there's less than 2 seconds left. On a lighter note, knowing that this team that has a lot of young talent, that probably won't leave early for the NBA or transfer, it's good to know that we're giving teams like 'Cuse, Kansas, OSU, and Wisco a run for their money. All I know is, this better not be like 2 years ago when everyone said at least next year will be better and then it was terrible. Hopefully these guys will grow from these hard losses.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 2:34 a.m.

Michigan played tough, but should have pulled this one out. For us to get better, we have to hit our free throws. Morris missing the front end of a one and one right before Wiscy's last possession was huge. This is somewhat inexperience, and hopefully our FT shooting will get better as the players mature. Our defense is much, much better in the last month and is giving us a chance to win every game. But, until we start hitting more of our shots and free throws, we won't become an NCAA tournament team.


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 2:22 a.m.

This was really a crusher for the yellow and blue nation, but take heart because this team is undoubtedly the most improved team in the Big Ten, maybe in the nation. UM has some great talent going and Coach Beilein knows what the heck he's doing. This coach does not need to be run out of town. If this team ends up in the NIT, I think they have a chance of taking it very deep. Good game tonight!


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 1:58 a.m.

Oh man, that sucked. UM is a gritty team...I like what Beilein is doing...but doggone it that hurt. Hopefully they can pick their heads up and win their last two...


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 1:51 a.m.

BANK!! No, but on a serious note, hard fought game by a team that knew how important this game was. Next game should be a battle to watch as Minnesota needs a win or two to get back into consideration for the tournament. I think this definitely solidified Michigan's spot in the NIT, although, not too bad for a very young team. I think next year is Beilein's defining year though...another miss of the NCAA's, after expanding the field to 68 and recently approved upgrades for Crisler, the coaching carousel might start up again...


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

Man, what a heartbreaking loss, Darius my man, you got to hit your free throws, just grow from it young man, that's all you can do. Great effort by our boys, good coaching job by Coach B. It just didn't happen for us. Bo Ryan is a class act and I admire how his teams play smart and seem to overachieve somehow every year. Good for you Badger fans, you're very lucky to have that coach. Congrats on the win and as for us, well, we need to win, that's all there is to it. Go Blue!!!


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

Pop It was a nice run


Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

This team has a good shot at getting to the second round of the NIT. It has totally surpassed my expectations from earlier in the season when I thought they would be counted out of both tournaments.