March is mad at all levels of the NCAA
As hectic as this year’s edition of March Madness has been, buzzer beaters have been in short supply. We haven’t seen any in the Division-I men’s tournament (although Virginia Tech’s Naheim Alleyne hit a game-tying shot with 1.4 seconds left against Florida) and Jordan Nixon’s coast-to-coast game-winner on Wednesday was the only one of the D-I women’s tourney. But there are other NCAA tournaments going on, and the smaller schools are providing memorable moments as well.
In the D-II men’s Final Four on Thursday, West Texas A&M advanced to the title game by defeating Lincoln Memorial on a buzzer beater following a frantic sequence in the final seconds.
West Texas trailed by as many as 11 in the second half, and hadn’t led since it was 4–2 less than two minutes into the game. But the Buffaloes clawed back and were in position to try to win it with the ball under their own basket, trailing by two and 7.5 seconds on the clock.
Qua Grant’s driving layup went begging but in the ensuing scramble for the rebound, the ball magically floated out beyond the arc and into the hands of Zach Toussaint who calmly buried a high-arcing three. (Do not overlook Toussaint’s dramatic follow-through.)
The basket was Toussaint’s only make of the game. He’s the team’s three-point specialist, shooting 44.1% from three while taking nearly all of his shots from behind the arc, but he was 0-for-4 until the game-winner.
With the win, West Texas, a No. 1 seed, advanced to face Northwest Missouri State in the title game at noon ET Saturday on CBS. The Buffaloes have been to the Elite Eight in each of the past three tournaments, but have never won a national championship.
Northwest Missouri State was on the wrong side of another unbelievable buzzer beater just a few weeks ago in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association championship game when Washburn’s Tyler Geiman pulled up from well behind midcourt and ended the Bearcats’ streak of five straight conference titles.
And whenever something ridiculous happens in a lower-level tournament game, it’s a good excuse to revisit the unbelievable ending to the 2007 Winona State-Barton D-II championship game.
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