A regular college basketball game lasts for 40 minutes. During those 40 minutes, each second is just as important as the last as any play from a missed free throw to a costly turnover can be the difference in the outcome of the game.
But in last Saturday night’s game between the Rutgers men’s basketball team and Iowa, the only second that seemed to matter was the last.
As many fans are already aware, the Scarlet Knights (12-13, 5-10) suffered a heartbreaking, buzzer-beating loss at the hands of the No. 21 Hawkeyes (20-5, 9-5) inside the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) thanks to a contested corner 3-point bank shot by Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp in what has quickly been dubbed “the shot heard around the world” — or at least in Piscataway.
Here are three takeaways from the devastating loss and almost upset:
From the heavens
There’s no other way to put it: the shot was miraculous. With 3.3 seconds left in the game and Iowa down by 1, the Hawkeyes heaved a full-court pass that was partially tipped toward the corner of the Iowa bench where Wieskamp, who had just 6 points on the night and was 0-2 from behind the arc, stood.
Now with just more than a second remaining and Rutgers’ tallest player in graduate student center Shaquille Doorson closing out, Wieskamp chucked the ball toward the vicinity of the basket and much to the shock of every fan inside the RAC, the ball banked off the side of the backboard and somehow went in.
What makes this more unworldly is that this is the second time in as many games that the Hawkeyes have won a game on a tough buzzer-beater. Sorry Northwestern.
What could’ve been
Before “the shot,” the Knights actually took the lead on an incredible shot of their own. Down 2 points with less than 15 seconds left, sophomore guard Geo Baker dribbled around the outside of the arc, found some room at the top of the key and put up a 3.
Apropos to the suspense of the game, the ball bounced off the front of the rim, hit the backboard and dropped in sending the sold-out RAC into an absolute frenzy.
And despite not winning the game in the end, Rutgers not only competed with a top-25 team for a full 40 minutes, but played better than a top-25 team for a full 40 minutes and deserved to win the game.
Ranked 326th out of 353 Division I teams, the Knights are one of the youngest teams in the nation, averaging 1.09 years of experience. Still, Rutgers’ young players continue to make plays down the stretch of the season and on Saturday night, it was true freshman guard Ron Harper Jr.’s turn to step up.
Harper Jr. finished the night with a team and career-high 16 points, but it was the way he started that caught everybody’s attention. In the first half, Harper Jr. led all scorers with 14 points and was red hot from the 3-point range, starting the night 4-5 from deep.
Just a two-star recruit coming out of high school, Harper Jr. is proving his doubters wrong and is just another part of a very strong freshman class that includes guard Montez Mathis, guard Caleb McConnell and forward Myles Johnson.
Couple them with two more years of Baker and one more year of junior forward Eugene Omoruyi, including next year’s freshman class which already includes four-star recruit and New Jersey native Paul Mulcahy, and the Knights will be the ones winning those games.
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