What a difference two weeks makes.
Last night, senior Ben Smith banked home a 24-footer with less than a second to go to launch Jacksonville past Arizona State and into the Second Round of the NIT. His shot capped a furious rally in the last four minutes to hand JU its first postseason win in four decades.
"I got a good look," said Smith. "I didn't call 'glass,' but as it was in the air, you could see it had a chance."
This is the type of “senior moment” that nearly every student-athlete dreams about.
It’s a huge departure from the last time we saw Smith attempt a three-pointer at the end of the game. In the Dolphins’ semifinal loss to Mercer at the General Shale Brick A-Sun Championship, the guard saw his shot deflected by long-time nemesis James Florence as the Bears completed the upset.
Monday night’s dramatic finish in front of a national television audience on ESPN2 is more fitting for a four-year starter who helped re-invigorate a near dormant program.
Joining with Lehmon Colbert four seasons ago, the senior duo took a 1-26 team and turned it into a two-time Atlantic Sun regular season champ. Both scored over 1400-points and both have led a revival that brought JU basketball back to relevance. A few things were missing on the “bucket list”, but consider two of them scratched off now: a win over a BCS team and a win in a national postseason tournament.
Hopefully, Smith and his teammates have something left in the tank for Texas Tech. Wouldn’t back-to-back BCS wins be awfully enjoyable?
Arizona Republic: Jacksonville Sinks Arizona State with Late 3
Florida Times-Union: Ben Smith’s Shot Leads JU to Shocking NIT Upset
ESPN.com: Jacksonville Shocks NIT Top Seed Arizona St.
JUDolphins.com: BANK OPEN LATE: Smith’s Shot Stuns Arizona State, 67-66
AtlanticSun.org: Smith’s Last Second Bank Shot Burns Sun Devils
Of all the dramatic finishes you’ve seen in March, what is your favorite or most memorable?