Nov. 14, 2008
Brue's Half-Court Shot Beats West Texas A&M
By Maggie Corwin '12
Northwest's 2008-09 basketball season is about to begin with especially high expectations for the women's team.
"I don't think the Bearcats will sneak up on everyone like last year," said Northwest radio announcer Matt Gaarder.
Last year certainly was a successful one for the Northwest women. The Bearcats scored an amazing victory against Southwest Baptist to win the 2008 MIAA Tournament as a five seed and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The brackets were announced and three days later, the team loaded the bus and took an 11-hour drive to Canyon, Texas, where top-seeded West Texas A&M (26-4) and its 45-game home winning streak awaited. Northwest was seeded eighth.
"We were very nervous," said Meghan Brue, a junior a year ago. "We were also excited. We didn't have anything to lose, we were the underdogs."
"We played well in the conference tournament which gave me confidence we could go down there and continue to play great," said head basketball coach Gene Steinmeyer.
By halftime, the situation against West Texas A&M was looking grim. The score was 32-19 and the home crowd was growing louder and more confident.
"In the locker room, I asked the girls if they thought West Texas was really 13 points better than us," said Steinmeyer. "The girls agreed they weren't."
West Texas quickly extended its lead to 16 after the break, but the Bearcats slowly began to chip away at the gap. Northwest even took a short-lived lead with less than seven minutes on the clock.
With 22 seconds remaining in regulation, Northwest junior forward Jessica Burton nailed a jumper that tied the game at 61 and sent it into overtime.
Burton knocked down two free throws that knotted the game at 69 with 17 seconds left in the extra period, but Courtney Lee answered for West Texas with a 10-footer from the side of the rim with two seconds remaining. Northwest trailed by two and had to go the length of the court.
"We have a play designated for 3-6 seconds on the clock," explained Steinmeyer. "Of course we only had two seconds. I didn't bother to even use the whiteboard. I called the play and the girls set it up."
It was a basic play - inbound the ball down the court to Brue for a last-second shot.
"There were two things I noticed as the girls were about to throw in the ball," recalled Gaarder. "West Texas didn't cover the inbounds pass and there were two Northwest players at midcourt, one being Brue, and only one defender."
Senior point guard April Miller threw a two-handed pass that hit Brue in the chest at midcourt, but Brue lost control of the ball for a split second as she turned to dribble.
"I was turned to half court watching Brue and she fumbles the ball," said Steinmeyer. "The plan was for her to catch it, dribble twice and shoot, but she couldn't."
Instead of pausing to set up, Brue threw up a shot from 40 feet. As the ball is in the air the backboard lights up and the buzzer sounds, then amazingly, the ball swished through the hoop.
"There was no thought, just elation," said Steinmeyer, "and then 30 people were cheering and 2,970 were stunned."
After the shot, the team began cheering and both coaches and teammates flooded the floor.
Almost immediately the referee's whistle sounded and the crowd was herded off the court. The crew went to the monitor for a look at the replay.
"I was nervous that the refs were going to call it off, but I knew it was good" said Brue. "There wasn't any doubt."
From his seat at the announcer's table, Gaarder was able to see the video replay the refs were watching.
"It was clear that the refs could see that the ball had left Brue's hands in time," said Gaarder. "The video tape showed a clear shot of Brue and the lit backboard, but they still replayed the shot three times and called over the third referee.
"I was deathly afraid that the refs were going to call a turnover on Meghan, but by rule they couldn't, because the only thing the play was being reviewed for was whether the ball had left her hands in time."
The shot had been made in a span of less than two seconds, but for a few minutes the crowd held its breath waiting for the refs decision.
Finally, a referee stepped out onto the court. Blowing his whistle, he threw his hands into the air. The shot was good, giving Northwest an improbable 72-71 win advancing the team to the second round of the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament.
"It was quite a shock," said Brue. "I was full of excitement and happiness. We came from so far behind and the whole situation made it exciting."
"That was the first dramatic, game-winning moment I had ever called," said Gaarder. "On the video clip they matched my audio with the video, and watching it again chills your spine."
"I've been coaching 35 years but I've never won or lost a game by a half-court shot," said Steinmeyer. "It doesn't happen very often.
"The play I called isn't what worked, Brue is what worked. Getting the ball to Brue is what made the win possible."
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
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