Blog: The season of buzzer beaters

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In the spirit of Tuesday’s buzzer beater in the closing seconds of the Utah State game, a compilation of the most heart-wrenching, squeal-inducing, last-second shots of this season is in order.

Craig Cusick’s put-back against USU sealed the game 70-68. (Photo by Universe photographer)

The beauty of a close basketball game is it literally must go until a big red zero is on the clock before the score is finalized. Now that can be good or bad — thinking your opponent has the game in the bag only to watch one of your team’s players fling up a shot that makes the basket against all odds and wins the game, or celebrating in the stands as your team seems to clinch the game, but not before the enemy team shoots and scores with .06 left on the clock.

Specifically, the Cougars have experienced both the highs and lows of buzzer beaters this season. Remember the home game against St. Mary’s? Let this refresh your memory:

BYU was unbeaten in WCC action when St. Mary’s came to town on January 16, and it very nearly stayed that way. Tyler Haws’ runner with 2.5 seconds to play had the Gaels down two with the length of the court to go.

It wasn’t far enough.

St. Mary’s star Matthew Dellavedova took the inbounds pass, dribbled once, leaned around BYU’s Anson Winder and swished a 40-footer to win the game for the visitors.

Thankfully, BYU found a little redemption in Craig Cusick against the Aggies earlier this week.

The Cougars aren’t the only ones who have suffered/celebrated from buzzer beaters this season. Case and point: Wisconsin’s Ben Brust drains a three-pointer barely short of half court in a clincher over Michigan, an innocent walk-on sophomore from Butler floats a layup to win over No. 1 Indiana and Illinois tosses up a game-winning shot with under a second left in the game, also against No. 1 Indiana.

BYU’s West Coast Conference rival, Gonzaga, has been on both sides of buzzer beaters just like the Cougars.

Ranked No. 10 at the time, the Zags faced in-state competition Washington State. With eight seconds left, Wazzu tied the game. Zag point guard, Kevin Pangos – mustache and all, wasn’t fazed. He drove the ball and scored with barely four seconds left on the clock.

A month later, Gonzaga experienced the bitter part side of buzzer shots.

Buzzer beaters —they’re either the best thing ever, or the worst. For BYU’s Cusick, his only points of the USU game were the only ones that mattered.

“It’s hard to explain,” Cusick said. “As a player you couldn’t dream it any better. Coach called a great play. I ran to where I thought it was going to come off and I was fortunate the ball came to me. It’s great that I made the shot, but I have to give credit to my teammates who pulled us through the rest of the way.”

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