March 16, 2004
Shaw's Buzzer-Beater Sends 'Cats to Elite Eight
STEPHENVILLE, Texas -- Northwest Missouri State's Jesse Shaw hit a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded Tuesday night, lifting the Bearcats to a 62-59 victory over Drury University in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Championship Game. Shaw's buzzer-beater sends Northwest to its second NCAA Division II Elite Eight in the past three seasons.
With the score tied 59-59 and 23 seconds left, Drury's Kevin Thomas missed a three-pointer. The rebound went out of bounds, giving possession to Northwest. The Bearcats' Kelvin Parker, who was named Most Valuable Player of the regional tournament, brought the ball down the floor. Everyone in Tarleton State University's Wisdom Gymnasium expected Parker, who had already scored 27 points, to take the final shot for the Bearcats.
Parker drove the left side of the lane. Drury's Frank Bennett, who had been defending Shaw, came over to help on Parker, who dished to Shaw in the left corner. Shaw put up a three-pointer, which left his hands with 0.4 seconds remaining. The shot hit nothing but net at the buzzer, setting off a wild celebration on the Bearcats' bench and on the floor.
"I was thinking he'd make a play," Shaw said of Parker. "They sagged off him and left me open, I knew I had to take a shot with time running out. I really didn't even have a chance to think about it."
Northwest head coach Steve Tappmeyer said the play wasn't designed for Shaw. Tappmeyer wanted the ball in the hands of Parker, his best player, to create a play.
"We don't call a specific play, we just say 'Kelvin go make a play,'" Tappmeyer said. "I felt good about it. (Shaw) is a heck of a shooter when he just puts it up and doesn't have time to think about it."
Northwest needed a comeback to even be in position to win the game on the final possession. Drury led by as many as 11 twice in the first half, while the Bearcats were shooting a paltry 22.9 percent from the field. Northwest trailed the Panthers 30-24 at halftime.
Drury pushed its lead back to 11 in the first five minutes of the second half. The Panthers still led by 11 with 12:02 remaining in the game when Parker took over. Over the course of 2:18, the senior point guard, scored 12 straight Northwest points, pulling his team within four, 49-45. Bilal Clarance tacked a three-pointer on for Northwest at the 8:52 mark to pull within one, 49-48. The Bearcats finally pulled even at 6:26 when Byron Jackson scored on a tip in.
Jackson scored again on Northwest's next posssession, giving the Bearcats a 54-52 advantage. Parker scored after a steal to put Northwest up 56-52 at the five-minute mark. Drury scored the next five points, to go on top 57-56. The Bearcats' Sky Wilson answered with a three-pointer to make it 59-57. With just more than one minute remaining, Drury's Chris Mortellaro scored to tie it at 59-59 and set up Shaw's heroics.
The victory sends Northwest to Bakersfield, Calif. for the NCAA Division II Elite Eight. The Bearcats will face Southern Indiana, the champion from the Great Lakes region, in the first game of the Elite Eight at Noon (PST) on March 24.
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