02/12/04 — MOC campus still buzzing over "The Shot'

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MOC campus still buzzing over "The Shot'

Published in Sports on February 12, 2004 2:00 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Every once in a great while in the world of sports, something happens that is so memorable, so magical, that it takes little description to know exactly what someone is referring to.

Just say "The Drive" in Denver, or "The Catch" in San Francisco, or "The Play" on the California and Stanford campuses.

And at Mount Olive College, for years to come, all you have to say is "The Shot."

"The Shot," of course, is Marcus West's 80-foot one-handed line-drive heave that made a bee-line through the basket just as the buzzer sounded in Mount Olive's 108-105 victory over Pfeiffer, which entered the game as the last remaining unbeaten team in the nation in Division II and is currently ranked No. 2 in the NABC/Division II Bulletin Top 25 national poll.

Thanks to cable, satellite and the internet, The Shot isn't just Mount Olive's secret.

The Shot has already been aired numerous times on ESPN and ESPNEWS and in fact, was No. 1 on Tuesday's edition of ESPN's "Top 10 Plays of the Day." It will almost certainly be included Sunday among ESPN's "Top 10 Plays of the Week."

Perhaps even more talked about on campus than The Shot and the game -- which legitimately could become known as simply "The Game"-- is all the national attention Mount Olive has received this week.

The North Carolinas and Dukes of the world are always in the national spotlight. For Mount Olive College -- a school with an enrollment of just under 2,000 (counting all five campuses) in a town with a population of around 2,000 -- getting this kind of nationwide coverage has been, thus far, a once in a lifetime event.

Has the Mount Olive athletics office ever been so inundated with phone calls and e-mails from ESPN, CNN and Fox Sports?

Typical conversations on the Mount Olive campus the past few days have included comments such as, "I saw it on CNN," "They showed Marcus's shot on Fox Sports," "My mom in Oklahoma saw it" and "If it was the number one play of the day, it has to make plays of the week."

Students, faculty and staff members crowded around televsion sets on campus every time the shot aired on SportsCenter.

West himself can't go too far around campus without someone bringing up The Shot.

"Everywhere I go, people are calling my name, shaking my hand. They're giving me nicknames like 'Superman,' 'All-America' and 'MVP,' " said West, a senior from Phoenix, Ariz.

And yes, his hometown television stations in Phoenix have been showing The Shot.

As hard as it may be to believe, throwing a baseball pass through the hoop from more than three-quarters the length of the basketball court was not the play the Mount Olive coaches had drawn up. And while all of the national attention has gone to West for his miracle shot, much credit has to be given to Goldsboro's Victor Young, who threw the inbounds pass.

"I was supposed to throw the ball long, but I had a 6-8 guy on me," said Young, who finished with 17 points in the game. "We had no timeouts. I didn't want to risk a turnover under the basket and I didn't want to get a five-second call."

Earlier this year, Pfeiffer defeated St. Andrews 86-85 on a buzzer-beater after St. Andrews committed a turnover with two seconds left.

"I just wanted to get the ball in and look forward to overtime," said Young.

West came back for the ball from almost mid-court. He turned around, took a dribble and let it fly. He wasn't actually thinking "game-winner." It's just that when the buzzer's about to go off, whoever has the ball simply throws it towards the basket from wherever he is on the court.

"I saw it was straight on, but I thought it would hit the backboard or hit the back of the rim," said West. "I never imagined it would go in."

Even after it did go in, it didn't immediately dawn on him what had just happened.

"It took about a half-second pause to realize what happened," said West. "I couldn't believe it. I just fell down and lied on my back."

"I didn't think it had a chance," said Young. "It was unbelievable."

While West admits he doesn't actually "practice" that shot, he says he has tried it before. ButÉ

"That was the first time I ever made it," said West.

There is much from the night that will likely get lost with all the pandemonium and fanfare surrounding The Shot. Among the noteworthy stats and events from Monday night:

* West finished with 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including 1-for-2 from beyond the arc. WAY beyond the arc.

* Sharome Holloway, who went 8-for-12 from the field, established career highs with 20 points and 13 rebounds and hit a free throw with 28 seconds left to tie the game 105-105.

* Maurice Horton, starting at point guard for injured senior Janson Greene, scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half.

* Mount Olive scored 64 points in the first half, one point more than its total for the entire game in its win at Erskine two nights earlier.

* Mount Olive outrebounded Pfeiffer 46-33.

* Mount Olive led by as many as 17 points in the second half, then had to come from behind in the final seconds to win.

* Mount Olive's women's basketball team defeated Pfeiffer 72-62 in the first game of the night to give the Trojans a sweep in the basketball doubleheader.

* Pfeiffer had hit its previous four shots before Rico Grier missed the potential tie-breaker with three seconds left.

* Johnny Galarza pulled down the rebound on the missed shot and called timeout with 1.8 seconds remaining, setting up ... well, you know.

Monday's game could go on to share a common bond with a famous event in the 60's called Woodstock: No matter what the official attendance was at the game, years from now, anyone you talk to connected with Mount Olive will say "I was there."

And years from now, talk to anyone in the Mount Olive College family and they'll smile and nod with immediate recognition at the mere mention of The Shot.