Last night was one of the most exhilarating and heart-wrenching experiences I have ever had as a sports fan.
Duke, ranked fourth in the country, came to Chestnut Hill to battle BC in a game that Duke should have easily won. I was able to score a last-second ticket, but I wasn’t expecting much out of the game. It’s been a tough year for BC basketball. During warmups you could see how much more disciplined, refined, and talented Duke’s players were.
But, you know what? This is why they play the game, and this is why college basketball is awesome – it is a sport where upsets do happen. If Duke had lost, all of the top 5 teams would have gone down in the last week.
BC took an early lead before Duke did what it always does – score a lot of points in a short period of time. We were tied 27-27 at the half and then, somehow, BC started pulling ahead into the second half. With two minutes left, we were up by five. With 90 seconds left, we were up by four. With a minute left, we were up by two. Was this really happening?
The student section began making their way to the lower court – yes, if we won, we were storming the court. A lot of people have theories for when fans should storm the court. But, I think, if you are an unranked, sub-.500 team that beats a top 5 team in your conference then yes, it absolutely merits court storming. Finally, after four long years of BC sports, we – the seniors – were going to have a defining moment.
And then Duke hit a big shot and made a free-throw to go up by one. We still had a chance – down one with 25 seconds to go. We drove down the court, had an open shot, and it missed. The game clock expired. Final score: Duke 62, BC 61. Heartbreak. This one really hurt. The students, I think, felt betrayed.
Maybe it’s been the fact that BC sports have been a disappointment in football and basketball. I mean, I’ve had fun at games. There have been some good times. But, remember, this was a school that was ranked #2 in football in 2007, that beat UNC and Duke in basketball in 2009, that went to a bowl game in twelve straight years, that reached the Round of 32 every year from 2004 through 2007 (including a 20-0 start in 2004 and a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2006). In my four years, we have had no bowl wins and no NCAA tournament appearances. We haven’t been ranked in either sport, and we haven’t beaten a ranked opponent.
I don’t want to say that my graduating class got jipped – but it was certainly a disappointing four years compared to what BC students are used to seeing. Hockey, of course, is an entirely different story. Two national championships, four Beanpots (we clinched our fourth tonight), all under the winningest coach in college hockey history. But I’ve never been into hockey the way that I am with football and basketball.
Again, I don’t want to come across as vain here. Or envious. I’m not, and I recognize that a lot of people won’t ever get the chance to attend a school with strong D-1 sports programs. And, overall, I have been insanely spoiled as a sports fan between the Yankees and Giants.
But, for one night, we had a chance to make national news – and to experience something that none of us would ever forget. In some alternate universe, I’m writing about that. Instead, we came up short. One point short.