Big win for the Wesleyan men's basketball team tonight over Amherst, in a game that everyone thought was going into overtime until literally the very last microsecond. In fact, even after the very last microsecond. That's how exciting it was.
Down at the half by four points, Wesleyan clawed its way back with about 5 minutes left, and then pulled ahead by five with only two or three minutes remaining. Strong 3-point shooting by Wesleyan number 24 was key in sparking an amazing rally midway into the second half. The Cards would have achieved a much more comfortable lead but for some truly abysmal free-throw shooting. (This spectator only saw the second half, but with about five minutes to go Wes was only two for seven from the line. Meanwhile, Amherst was hitting just about everything from their free-throw line, a development of some import given that Wes had achieved seven team fouls fairly quickly in the second half.)
Things got quite interesting under the two-minute wire, with an impressive five-point run by the "Lord Jeffs" (shouldn't it actually be the "Lords Jeff"?), tying the game with only seven seconds remaining. A questionable traveling call on Wesleyan's number 50 led to a crucial turnover in favor of the Lords. (My neighbor on the bleachers, Mark Masselli, thought it a good bit of refereeing, but this reporter -- partisan no doubt, given the player was a former student of high quality -- felt that a foul should have been called.) The tying shot by Amherst was an amazing three-pointer that took the wind right out of the Wesleyan sails -- or so everyone thought -- and certainly left the partisan crowd gasping for air. It was as though those home heating analysis guys had set up a massive fan-blower in one of the double doors and had sucked the oxygen right out of the room. One could almost hear Ross Perot's great sucking sound. But despite the nasty air-conditions, the Cardinal feathers were not at all ruffled. The men in-bounded the ball, and as the point guard (number 11) moved it dexterously up the right side of the court, the 7 seconds quickly ticked down to 1. Closely guarded, he leapt into the air, and falling out of bounds with the defender's hand in his face he let loose with a Hail Mary shot -- from well beyond 3-point range. Just as the ball left his fingertips, the clock ran down to zero. The crowd waited. The ball arced. The crowd waited some more. The ball banked off the backboard. We waited some more. (It honestly did feel like slow-motion.) The ball went in.
It was the first Wesleyan basketball game I'd attended in over ten years. Couldn't have chosen a better one.
The next game, for those looking for some great entertainment, is on Thursday at 7 p.m., Freeman Athletic Center. The opponent is Albertus Magnus, or rather, the team representing the college named after the twelfth-century Dominican saint, located in New Haven.