Top 10 Game-Winners in NCAAs

With Valparaiso coach Homer Drew looking on, his son Bryce Drew unleashes game-winning three-pointer at buzzer to slay Ole Miss in 1998 NCAA Tournament.

Somewhere in this vast galaxy, in some alternate universe, Gordon Hayward’s halfcourt heave went in the basket and Butler beat Duke to win the 2010 NCAA National Championship. In that other world, it is celebrated as the greatest shot in college basketball history and arguably the greatest shot ever in sports.

Hayward’s shot would have topped this SportsLifer list except for one important detail. In this world, Hayward’s shot rimmed out and instead Duke held on to win its fourth National Championship.

There were plenty of other shots that did go in and made a difference.

Here are the 10 greatest game-winning shots in NCAA Tournament history:

1. Bryce Drew , Valparaiso, 1998, First Round: You remember the play. Valpo trailing Ole Miss by two, seconds left to play….and…we’ll let CBS broadcaster Ted Robinson, now the 49ers play-by-play man, make the call: “The inbounds pass to be thrown by Jamie Sykes, Carter pressuring. It’s to Jenkins….to Drew for the win…GOOD! HE DID IT! BRYCE DREW DID IT! VALPO HAS WON THE GAME A MIRACLE!” The leaning three pointer well behind the arc gave 13th-seeded Valpo a 70-69 win. Cinderella beat Florida State to gain the Sweet 16, where Valparaiso fell to Rhode Island

2. Christian Laettner, Duke, 1992, East Regional Final: In one of the greatest games every played and Duke trailing Kentucky by one in overtime, Calvin Hill threw a  desperation 80-foot pass to Christian Laettner who caught the ball, faked and put up a fadeway shot from the free throw line as time expired. The Blue Devils advanced to the Final Four with the 104-103 win and went on to win their second straight title.

3. Arkansas, US Reed, 1981, Second Round: U.S. (Ulysses S) Reed, unable to get the ball to any of his teammates and with time running out, took a desperation shot from beyond the midcourt line, left. The ball went in (this before the advent of the three-point shot) and Arkansas stunned defending champ Louisville, 74-73.

4. Lorenzo Charles, North Carolina State, 1983, National Championship: With the game tied at 52 and four seconds to play, NC State’s Dereck Whittenburg flung a desperation heave. It was an airball, but Lorenzo Charles turned the miss into a dunk, and causing Wolfpack coach Jim Valanvo to run wild looking for somebody to love.

5. Keith Smart, Indiana, 1987, National Championship: The title game was held on Oscar night and while the nominated “Hoosiers” didn’t win in Hollywood, Bob Knight’s Hoosiers did in New Orleans. Keith Smart hit the winning jumper in the final seconds for the 74–73 win over Syracuse.

6. Tyus Edney, UCLA, 1995, Second Round — 5’10” guard Tyrus Edney went cost-to-coast with 4.8 seconds left and made a game-winning layup as the buzzer sounded the give the Bruins a 75-74 win over Missouri. UCLA went on to win its 11th national championship, the only one since John Wooden’s run of 10 titles ended in 1975.

7. Tate George, UConn, 1990, Elite Eight, Regional Semifinals:  With only one second left in the game and UConn down a point to Clemson, Scott Burrell threw a full court pass to George. George caught the pass, spun around and released a 15-footer that fell through as time expired for a 71-70 win. Two days later, the Huskies lost a  heartbreaker to Duke on a buzzer beater by Christian Laettner.

8. Michael Jordan, North Carolina, 1982, National Championship: No list of great exploits in basketball history is complete without the obligatory Jordan reference. The freshman hit a 17-foot jumper from the left side with around 10 seconds left. giving Dean Smith his first national title with the 63-62 win over Georgetown.

9. Vic Rouse, Loyola of Chicago,  1963, National Championship: The underdog Ramblers rallied from 15 points down in the second half to force overtime, then won the game on a last-second rebound and basket by Vic Rouse. Loyola’s improbable 60-59 win and denied Cincinnati the first three-peat in NCAA history.

10. Richard Washington, UCLA, 1975, National Semifinals: John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins won 10 titles in 12, and most weren’t even close. But this battle against former Wooden assistant and Louisville head coach was. The Bruins rallied to force overtime and won the game 75-74 on a last-second shot by Richard Washington. They went on to beat Kentucky for Wooden’s last championship.

Gimme a break: Knicks full of excuses

Melo and the Knicks are missing the point – they’re heading the wrong way.

Several weeks back, shortly after the Carmelo Anthony trade, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said he’d be satisfied if the Knicks won half their remaining games.

Way to set the bar high, coach. You’ve got two superstars on your team, two of the five top scorers in the NBA in Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, and your goal is mediocrity. Sadly, the way the Knicks are playing right now, they’d settle for playing .500 ball.

The playoffs, which seemed like a lock a few weeks back, are no sure thing anymore. The Knicks are in a free fall, having lost five straight and eight of their last nine. It would take a historic collapse for the Knicks to miss the post-season in the NBA’s weak Eastern Conference, but after losing to the likes of the Bucks, Pacers, Pistons and Cavs, the playoffs are no longer automatic.

Here’s a typical Knick game: Come out flat and fall way behind in the first quarter, play catch-up ball in the second and third, then fail to execute in the fourth and go down to defeat. Again and again, the pattern repeats.

“It’s going to take a while,” D’Antoni said several weeks ago. “I don’t think we’ll get it as well as we want this week or next week. But at the end of the year we should have it real good. In the meantime we have to get in the playoffs — whatever seed it is and prepare for that team.”

“I know everybody’s anxious. I’m anxious, the players are anxious. There’s no way you can throw four-to-six new guys into a rotation and all be on the same page. Some teams exploit things we haven’t gone over.”

The Knickerbockers are good on one thing — excuses. Peter Vecsey outlined a few of those excuses in his always entertaining Hoop du Jour in the New York Post.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
“Everybody has them and goes to ’em nightly. You all know the drill by heart — trade adjustments; readjustments to Billups returning from a thigh bruise, though the team was 4-1 without him; rough March schedule; rough upbringing; rough surf; the dog ate my home-court advantage; James Dolan spending too much time getting Radio City ready for Charlie Sheen.”

D’Antoni is part of the problem. More than one Knick fan has suggested he remove the “D” from his name — since his team doesn’t play any.

Earlier this week, the Knicks decided not to practice on an off-day — although it’s obvious they need the work. “If nothing else,” one player said, “we need a break from each other.”

Gimme me a break. Which of course Cablevision brat James Dolan didn’t give Madison Square Garden fans when he raised ticket prices by an average of 49 percent.

LOL: Baseball’s Funniest Notable Quotables


In my latest copy of the world’s largest circulation manage, aka AARP Magazine, they had a Power of 50 page devoted to baseball’s 50 funniest notable quotables.

Well, here’s my favorite 10 — along with another Yogi-ism for the wrap.

Enjoy. And send me your favorites.

“Trying to sneak a pitch past Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak the sunrise past a rooster.”

— Joe Adcock

“If a horse won’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it.”

— Dick Allen on artificial turf

“It ain’t nothing’ till I call it.”

— Bill Klem, umpire

“Sure I played, did you think I was born at age 70 sitting in a dugout trying to manage guys like you?”

Casey Stengel to Mickey Mantle

“All I remember about my wedding day in 1967 is that the Cubs lost a doubleheader.”

— George Will

“Ninety percent of this game is half mental.”

— Yogi Berra

“There’s no crying in baseball.”

— Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own

“I’d be willing to bet you, if I was a betting man, that I have never bet on baseball.”

— Pete Rose

“The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and then to pick it up.”

— Bob Uecker

“I never took the game home with me. I always left it in some bar.”

— Bob Lemon

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”

— Yogi Berra

Top 10 Games in College Basketball History

1. 1992 — Duke 104, Kentucky 103 (OT) — Playing in a regional final and a chance to go to the Final Four, the Blue Devils and Wildcats scored on the final five possessions of the game, trading the lead each time. Kentucky took a 103-102 lead with 2.9 seconds left on Sean Woods’ crazy, 10-foot bankshot. Then Grant Hill threw the ball three quarters of the way down court to Christian Laettner, above, who turned and hit the winning shot at the buzzer. Laettner finished with 10-for-10 from the field and 10-for-10 at the foul line.

2. 1974 — NC State 103,  Maryland 100 (OT) — The top-ranked Wolfpack overcame a 13-point first half deficit and endured in overtime to win the ACC Tournament. Rules at the time allowed only one of the teams to advance to the NCAAs, so the fourth-ranked Terrapins were left on the outside looking in . The game featured five players who received All-American honors in their careers — David Thompson and Tom Burleson of NC State and Tom McMillen, John Lucas and Len Elmore of Maryland — and 11 players drafted by the NBA.

3. 1957 — North Carolina 54, Kansas 53 (3OT) – The unbeaten Tar Heels outlasted Wilt Chamberlain and the Jayhawks in the longest game in NCAA championship game history. Two free throws by Joe Quigg with six seconds left made the difference. UNC also played three overtimes in the semifinals, beating Michigan State.

4.  1974 — Notre Dame 71, UCLA 70 — Notre Dame put together one of the most  improbable runs ever, scoring the final 12 points of the game to beat UCLA and end the Bruins 88-game winning streak. Dwight Clay’s jumper from the right corner with 29 seconds left gave the Irish the lead and they survived several UCLA attempts in the final seconds before celebrating, left.

5. 1983 — NC State 54, Houston 52 – The Wolfpack, sixth seeded with 10 losses during the season, won when it mattered most as Lorenzo Charles putback dunk at the final buzzer upset Houston’s heavily favored Phi Slama Jama. Few will ever forget  the sight of NC State coach Jim Valvano racing around the court looking for somebody to hug after the final buzzer.

6. 2009 — Syracuse 127, UConn 117 (6OT) — In the Big East Tournament semifinals, the Orange outlasted the Huskies in six overtimes in the longest college basketball game ever played at Madison Square Garden. The contest took nearly four hours to complete and ended at 1:22 am. Syracuse returned later that night to win the Big East Championship against Pittsburgh.

7. 1985 — Villanova 66, Georgetown 64 – In a shocker, the Wildcats shot a tournament record .786 percent. They attempted 10 field goals in the second half and made nine. Georgetown was defending champion and the top seed, but fell short against eighth-seeded Villanova after beating another Big East foe, St. John’s, in the semifinals.

8. 1982 — North Carolina 63, Georgetown 62 — This was Michael Jordan’s coming  out party,  and the freshman hit the game-winning shot, a 16-foot jumper, below, with 15 seconds left, to give Tar Heel coach Dean Smith his first national championship. “I was all kinds of nervous,” Jordan said, “but I didn’t have time to think about doubts. I had a feeling it was going to go in.”

9. 1969 — Houston 71, UCLA 69 — It was hyped as the “Game of the Century.” A mid-season battle between two unbeaten teams. And it was played in front of 52,693 at the Astrodome, the largest crowd ever to watch a college basketball game at that time. Second-ranked Houston, led by Elvin Hayes, outplayed Lew Alcindor and #1 UCLA, ending the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak. Hayes outscored Alcindor, 39-15

10. 1964 — Michigan 80, Princeton 78 — Princeton’s Bill Bradley scored 41 points to give the Tigers a 12-point lead with less than five minutes to play, when he fouled out in this Holiday Festival game at Madison Square Garden. The top-ranked Wolverines rallied behind Cazzie Russell, who made the winning shot in the waning seconds. Both Bradley and Russell would later play in MSG for the Knicks.

Three Pointers….3 more for the ride

11. 1994 — Kentucky 99, LSU 95 — In the “Mardi Gras Miracle” the Wildcats engineered one of the great comebacks in NCAA history. Trailing by 31 points at halftime, Kentucky outscored LSU 62-27 in the second half for the win.

12. 1999 — USC 85, Oregon 84 – USC’s Adam Spanwich scored six points in the last 2.8 seconds, including a steal and half court heave that beat the buzzer and completed an incredible comeback

13. 1944 — Utah 42, Dartmouth 40 (OT) — Utah originally turned down an invite to the NCAA tournament, but was given a second chance after Arkansas pulled out of the tourney when two players were injured in an automobile accident.  The Utes were the youngest NCAA champion in history, averaging 18 1/2 years age.

Hey Joe…Malone Only Man to Score 7 Goals


When Ryan Callahan scored four goals against the Flyers on Sunday. he joined Marian Gaborik as the second New York Ranger to accomplish the feat this year.

Only two Rangers have ever scored five goals in a game — rookie 19-year old Don Murdoch in 1976 in just his fourth NHL game and Mark Pavelich in 1983.

And only one player in history has ever scored seven goals in an NHL game — Maurice Joseph “Phantom Joe” Malone. Malone, skating for the Quebec Bulldogs, set the record more than 90 years ago, January 31, 1920 to be exact.

Malone was the NHL’s first star in its inaugural 1917-18 season. Playing with the Montreal Canadiens on what was one of the most powerful forward lines of all time — with Newsy Lalonde and Didier Pitre — Malone shifted to left wing to accommodate Lalonde, and became the NHL’s first scoring leader.

He registered 44 goals in 20 games that year, a record total that would stand as the NHL’s single season goal scoring mark until 1945 and a record per-game average  that stands to this day. (If such an average was sustained over today’s 82-game schedule, it would result in 180 goals, nearly double Wayne Gretzky’s record of 92.)

Malone scored at least one goal (and a total of 35 goals) in his first 14 NHL games that year to set the record for the longest goal-scoring streak to begin an NHL career. This streak still stands as the second-longest goal-scoring streak in NHL history.

Scoring Machine

Malone scored the second most career goals of any player in major hockey’s first half-century, 143 goals in 126 games over seven seasons with the Canadiens, Bulldogs and Hamilton Tigers.

Less than six weeks after scoring seven gaols, Malone would score six goals in a game. Three other players would also have six-goal games over the course of the next year — Lalonde of the Canadiens in 1920, and the Denneny brothers Corb and Cy of the Toronto St. Pats, who had six-goal games less than six weeks apart in 1921.

In the 90 years since, only three NHL players have scored six goals in a game — Syd Howe of the Detroit Red Wings in 1944, Red Berenson of the St. Louis Blues in 1968, and Darryl Sittler , shown right, of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1976. Sittler added four assists that night to finish with 10 points, the most ever in a NHL game.

Only two players have registered even five-goal games in the past 15 years — Marian Gaborik, with the Minnesota Wild in 2007 and Johan Franz of Detroit on Feb. 2, 2011.

Joe Malone is the all-time leader with five games of three goals or more, including five-goal outbursts in 1917 (one) and 1918 (two) with the Canadiens. Wayne Gretzky scored five goals four times with the Edmonton Oilers, and Mario Lemieux did the same with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Lalonde scored five or more on three occasions, and Babe Dye (Toronto St. Pats) , Maurice “Rocket” Richard (Canadiens), Sittler (Leafs) and Bryan Trottier (Islanders) each did it twice.