A 3-2 zone defense was the foundation of Yonsei’s dramatic come-from-behind victory.
Yonsei University defeated Sungkyunkwan University 78-74 in the quarterfinal playoffs of the 2023 KUSF University Basketball U-League at 텍사스홀덤 Yonsei Sinchon Campus Gymnasium on Nov. 11.
It was a dramatic come-from-behind victory that was fueled by the fourth-quarter heroics of Yoo Yoo-sang and Lee Ju-young. After losing the lead (27-28) with 6:19 left in the second quarter, Yonsei continued to struggle and only regained the lead (73-72) with 2:07 left in the game.
The reason for Yonsei’s struggles was the explosive three-point shooting of Sungkyunkwan University. Yonsei had a chance to tie the game midway through the third quarter (51-52), but back-to-back three-pointers from Jung Bae-kwon and Park Jong-ha pushed the lead back to 10 points.
Yonsei’s option in crunch time was a 3-2 zone defense. Yoo Yoo-sang was supposed to play a wide defense at the top to stop Sungkyunkwan’s offense. However, with Sungkyunkwan’s three-point shooting on fire from the corner, there was definitely a risk, and they allowed a three-pointer to Jung Bae-kwon right after the defense change (54-66).
In the end, however, this choice led Yonsei to victory. The power of this form of defense came to the fore in the fourth quarter, when the game was decided. The frontcourt players picked up their defensive intensity and used their steals to cut off Sungkyunkwan’s outside passes.
With their improved defense, Yonsei held Sungkyunkwan scoreless from the opening buzzer until Park Jong-ha’s three-pointer with 4:43 left in the game. The defense also did not allow any more corner 3-pointers, a weakness of theirs, and as a result, Yonsei used its fourth-quarter advantage (18-5) to advance to the final.
Coach Yoon Ho-jin commented on the 3-2 zone defense after the game, saying, “The players’ concentration on defense increased because the distance they had to move was shorter than in a man-to-man defense. We also got two steals when we were told to focus on cutting off passes to the outside, and I think it was effective to keep the opponent’s shooting in check until the end in a difficult situation for the players in front of us, which reduced the opponent’s success rate in the second half.”
“Also, the 3-2 zone is a defense that we are confident in. We used it because we thought it allowed the players to focus on defense more than man-to-man, and the players executed it well,” he added, explaining the change in defense.
Yonsei, who overturned the game and advanced to the final based on a change in defense, has only one game left to play against Korea University, who they will face again on the 14th.