SALT LAKE CITY – Fairleigh Dickinson found a wonderful reason to celebrate near the end of an otherwise dreary 87-49 NCAA Tournament loss to top-seeded Gonzaga on Thursday.
Senior forward Nadi Beciri, sidelined virtually all season with a back injury, scored on a layup with 28 seconds left while being fouled by Gonzaga’s Joel Ayayi. Beciri went directly to the sideline and planted a bear hug on coach Greg Herenda.
The bench, coaches included, and a small band of fans went crazy after Beciri’s bucket. Smiles lit up the faces of Darnell Edge and Jahlil Jenkins, the starting guard tandem that had been shut down by Gonzaga’s defense.
“If you get beat by 38 points and (you can) be euphoric and hug somebody it’s special, you know what I’m saying,” Herenda said.
Beciri, a popular figure on FDU’s campus, played just 19 minutes in two early-season games. His back injury often prevented him from traveling but he told Herenda he was feeling better and the trainer gave Beciri the green light.
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