Teyvion Kirk walked into the postgame press conference with no sweat on his body.
The Bobcats had lost 101-98 in double overtime to Central Michigan just minutes before, but Kirk’s game concluded with 1:26 remaining in regulation.
He and Doug Taylor corralled Central Michigan guard Shawn Roundtree on the left wing. Kirk trailed Roundtree after fighting through a screen, and Taylor stood in front of Roundtree near the elbow, waiting in help position.
Roundtree tried to drive to the basket, but Taylor knocked the ball from his hands. Then the whistle blew, and the referees assigned Kirk his fifth foul.
Kirk pleaded with the referees. There must’ve been a mistake, he thought. But the officials confirmed their decision without reviewing the play.
“I ain’t going to speak on it, but you see what happened all night,” Kirk said. “I didn’t even reach.”
Kirk exited the game with a career-high 24 points on seven-of-13 shooting, which he certainly could’ve expanded upon if he’d played two more overtime periods.
Maybe he could’ve prevented them altogether.
“I was pissed,” Kirk said. “I feel like I let my team down.”
Instead, Kirk watched Mike Laster miss two potential go-ahead free throws at the end of regulation. He watched a five-point lead crumble in the first overtime.
He watched Cecil Williams’ floundering foul grab turned 3-point attempt accidentally bank off the backboard and send the game to a second overtime. He watched Laster miss another go-ahead free throw during the second overtime. And he watched A.J. Gareri go from hero to goat.
All from the bench.
“In the game, I can change things,” Kirk said. “I’m physically out there. I can decide what I’m going to do. On the bench, you can only do so much.”
Kirk couldn’t contest Williams’ shot as much as the fans could. He cycled between placing his hands over his face and resting his glum face on his fist throughout the overtimes.
But no feeling compared to watching that shot go through the net.
“On the bench, it looked like — I don’t know what it looked like it was going to do,” Kirk said. “Didn’t look like it was going in though. It was a prayer.”
Williams’ shot, coupled with Gareri’s foul of David Dileo the following period, devastated nearly everybody in The Convo. But for Kirk, those plays emphasized his frustrations on an afternoon in which he already felt cheated.
He and the Bobcats needed a win Saturday — before he fouled out, he was the prime reason they looked like they’d get one.
He’s learned a lot during his first college season. But of all the lessons, this one might be the hardest to swallow.
“I was feeling good,” Kirk said. “That call was like — and it was my fifth one at that? Like, come on man. You've got to be sure about that. If you’re going to call it, you better be sure.”