Indiana Daily Student

IU falls in NCAA Tournament, season comes to an end

OMAHA, Neb. — There were no tears. The expected anguish of an NCAA Tournament loss was nowhere to be found in IU’s locker room. There was sadness, yes. Regret, disappointment, even anger. But no tears.

It was an atmosphere more fitting for a funeral wake than a losing locker room. And, in a way, it was.

The deceased: IU’s 2014-15 season. Cause of death: another second-half slide.

IU took a three-point lead into halftime against Wichita State, then launched into what became its trademark downfall this season — a stale response out of the halftime break. Wichita State took the lead less than a minute into the second half.

The Hoosiers responded with a run of their own, but the Shockers’ pressure defense became too much. Wichita State took the lead with just under 11 minutes to play and controlled the rest of the game.

IU came close — agonizingly close — to a comeback, but it wasn’t to be. The season ended with an 81-76 loss in Omaha.

Sophomore forward Troy Williams said IU thought it had a chance. The Hoosiers managed to get within one point of the Shockers in the final three minutes but couldn’t finish the task.

“No matter how large the deficit is, we always stay together, we always say anything can happen,” Williams said. “We never see each other as out of ?the game.”

The Hoosiers were in it. Then the season ended.

“There’s a couple things we could’ve fixed,” freshman guard James Blackmon Jr. said. As he spoke, he picked at a thick wrapping of tape around his ankle. “Just little things we could’ve changed.”

But still, no tears in the locker room. After all IU had been through this season, Williams said, just making it this far was a success.

“From the beginning of the season, we grew so much together, and now we’re here,” he said. “Not a lot of people thought we were going to make it this far. Now we’re just going to grow from it.”

IU Coach Tom Crean said he was proud of the way his team fought through adversity all season. The Hoosiers exceeded the expectations of many and overcame troubles on and off the court.

There was the now-infamous Halloween night and the injury and suspension that came from it. Then there were two more suspensions, a slew of injuries and a late-season collapse that put IU’s NCAA Tournament status in doubt.

“They have persevered through adversity, persevered through different trials, and they did some things that not a whole lot of people expected them to do,” Crean said. “We’re not happy with the outcome today, certainly we could have played better, but I have zero disappointment in the way these guys battled, competed, got better and persevered throughout the season.”

No tears. A few regrets, but no tears.

After the media cleared from his locker, Blackmon got back to work unwrapping his ankle. He scratched and pulled, but it wouldn’t come off.

After a minute or so, he gave up with a sigh. He got up, pushed his way through a group of managers and walked out of the locker room. His eyes never left the carpet.

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