It’s one of those shots people hear about – and frequently see on ESPN’s SportsCenter – but few rarely witness in person.
North Idaho College sophomore guard Melvin Jones said he saw his shot from 81 feet swish through the net.
Then bedlam ensued as Jones was mobbed by teammates and fans as the Cardinals, who watched an 18-point lead evaporate, held off College of Southern Idaho 69-66 in a key Scenic West Athletic Conference game Saturday at Rolly Williams Court.
The victory, coupled with conference-leading Salt Lake Community College losing on a buzzer-beater to Snow College, moved NIC (20-2 overall, 5-2 SWAC) within a game of the Bruins (19-2, 6-1) with an all-important doubleheader at Salt Lake next weekend.
Jones was numb 10 minutes after letting the shot fly from near the free-throw line at the opposite end of the court. In fact, for a split second, it appeared his desperation heave might clip the bottom of the scoreboard that hovers over the court.
“I’ve never made a shot like that before,” Jones said. “I’m happy we didn’t have to go overtime. When it went in I couldn’t believe it. I’m still shocked that it went in. As soon as it went in I closed my eyes (and thought), ‘Oh my God, are you serious? Did that just go in?’ ”
It was the first time NIC has swept CSI since the conference instituted home doubleheaders six years ago.
It was a game the 18th-ranked Cardinals seemed to fritter away after they built a 53-35 lead with 14:31 remaining.
CSI (16-6, 3-4) went on a 15-2 run over the next 5 minutes to pull within 55-50. It appeared the Cards had steadied themselves when Steven Hodney scored on a reverse layup off an assist from Shawn Henderson for a 60-50 lead with 7:05 to go.
But the Golden Eagles went on an 8-0 spurt, pulling within 60-58 when Jamelle Barrett, who penetrated frequently in the second half to score 17 of his game-high 20 points, scored at the 4:25 mark.
Then CSI took its first lead since the game’s opening basket at 66-64 when Daequon Montreal dunked off a nice wrap-around pass from Jay Watkins with 1:52 to go.
Renado Parker, who spent more time on the bench in foul trouble than in the game, got a big rebound basket for NIC to tie it at 66-66 with 1:22 remaining.
Each team had a shot from close range before NIC was awarded the ball on CSI’s end of the floor after the ball bounded out of bounds with 1.5 seconds to go.
NIC coach Jared Phay contemplated calling a timeout, but figured he couldn’t set up a play that would give his team a better look than just a desperation attempt. He figured he might need the timeout in overtime.
Just call him Phay of little faith.
“Did Melvin tell you that that was the exact play I drew up?” Phay quipped.
By the time most of the buzz had settled, the fact NIC had coughed up all of an 18-point lead wasn’t lost on Phay.
“We had a couple of key turnovers there,” Phay said, trying to explain the collapse. “A couple of guys kind of lost their heads there and we got into foul trouble. When Renado’s not in there, we’re a different team.”
All five NIC starters reached double-figure scoring. Henderson led with 14 to go with five steals and three assists. Guy-Marc Michel had 12 points and four blocked shots.
“This is huge momentum for this week,” Phay said. “We need to go to (Salt Lake) with a mission. We didn’t play very well against them up here.”
Southern Idaho 70, North Idaho 56: After the Cardinals knocked off 13th-ranked CSI the night before, they came out and played one of their worst games of the season.
CSI (17-4, 6-1) used a 15-0 run midway in the first half to build a 25-10 lead, and NIC (17-4, 4-2) was never able to recover.
The Golden Eagles built as much as a 25-point lead.
Soana Lucet led CSI with a game-high 23 points. Teammate Martina Holloway had eight assists and four steals.
Lauren Boyd-Miller was the lone NIC player to reach double-figure scoring with 10.