Greensboro tops Chattanooga on native's buzzer-beater
Updated: Sunday March 04, 2001 10:01 PM
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- Chattanooga was usually the best finisher in the Southern Conference tournament. Then the Mocs ran into North Carolina Greensboro's David Schuck.
Schuck's driving basket with 0.4 seconds left gave the Spartans a 67-66 victory over Chattanooga in the Southern Conference tournament championship game Sunday, sending the Spartans to the NCAA tournament for the second time in five years.
"This team never ceases to amaze me," Spartans coach Fran McCaffery said. "It's like they are never out of anything."
Even a wild one like this.
Chattanooga, with eight titles in 11 previous trips to the finals, looked certain to up their percentage after Clyde McCully drove past Courtney Eldridge to put the Mocs (18-13) ahead by a point with 2.6 seconds left.
But Schuck took Jay Joseph's long inbounds pass and, evoking memories of Duke's Christian Laettner, dribbled twice before putting in the game-winner for the Spartans (19-11).
Toot Young's attempt at a catch-and-shoot miracle for Chattanooga didn't work.
"There was some tension" during the timeout where McCaffery called the "tap play," Schuck said. "But we said, 'Keep your head up, we're going to have a shot, we're going to have a shot.'"
But it wasn't supposed to be Schuck's chance.
He was to take the 75-foot pass from Joseph and look for some streaking teammates heading to the basket. When they weren't there, Schuck drove around Michael Townsend for the game-winner.
"Thank goodness I made a lucky shot," Schuck said.
"This season, we've lost about every way a team can lose," Chattanooga coach Henry Dickerson said. "Sometimes you have to learn in a tough way. I think we'll learn something from tonight."
It's the Spartans' first NCAA trip as Southern Conference champions. They won the Big South Conference in 1996, losing to Cincinnati 66-61 in the NCAA tournament's first round.
Schuck finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, while freshman Ronnie Taylor had 14 points. Joseph and Eldridge, who missed two free throws that might have sealed the game with 9.6 seconds left, each had 10 points.
"It was a once in a lifetime moment that I let slip away," Eldridge said of his misses. "It's a good thing we made that play."
McCaffery said usually Nathan Popp throws the long pass in practice. But the coach said Joseph had the ability to make the throw "with a little mustard on it."
Schuck said the ball led him to his right and gave him a natural lane for the victory.
"I don't know if anything compares to this," he said.
McCaffery said he expected to be a 14th or 15th seed when the NCAA tournament brackets come out next week. He's going to give his team a few days off to enjoy the title and the attention that comes with it.
Chattanooga was trying to get to the NCAA tournament for the ninth time and first since 1997.
The Mocs couldn't climb out of the big hole they dug early in the second half when Dusty Pullian was called for a foul on Schuck's basket, and then assessed a technical for protesting.
By the time all the free throws were made and Schuck put in a stolen inbounds pass, North Carolina Greensboro was up 43-33 with 15:10 left.
McCully had nine of his team-high 19 points during Chattanooga's 16-7 run that got them within 50-49.
"I knew someone else had to help," McCully said. "I worked hard to lead my team to victory, and do everything possible to make my team win."
Things went back and forth after that as both teams looked weary from three consecutive days of games.
Young, the tournament MVP, cut the Spartans' lead to 65-64 with
10 seconds left. Eldridge missed the two foul shots to set up
McCully's drive and that was followed by Schuck's NCAA-tournament