March 19, 2016
Sometimes, you save the best for last. Late on Friday night, the NCAA Tournament's last block of first-round matchups produced three very well-played games and two incredible finishes.
In one of those games, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks advanced to the second round with a 78-76 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats after one of the most absurd endings you will ever see. If you're looking for the play in full, here it is:
Now, let's break the play down piece by piece.
To begin, the situation was St. Joe’s ball down 76-75 with 15 seconds left. At that point, the Hawks had gone scoreless for the last three minutes. Phil Martelli runs a perfect play out of the timeout to get an open look from deep for senior Isaiah Miles. Like he has done all season, Miles canned the three-ball. Hawks by a deuce.
Now with only seven seconds left, Cincy rushed the ball down the floor in a hurry:
OVER--- wait, did he not get that off in time?
OH MAN THAT BALL IS IN THE CYLINDER!
But the ball was also still in Octavius Ellis’ hands, and the refs made the correct decision to waive the tying bucket off. What an excruciating way to lose for Ellis (who made two critical defensive plays late) and Cincy. As for the Hawks, they live to play another day, specifically Sunday night against No. 1 Oregon.
P.S. Somehow not the best finish of the night...
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann