When Gannon loses a double-overtime game on a half-court heave like they did Friday night vs. Seton Hill, you'd think I'd feel awful. Surprisingly, I actually feel tremendous -- I witnessed one of the greatest games in the history of the legendary Porreco Cup. In the grand scheme of things, so what if Gannon came out on the short end, 103-100? Don't get me wrong. If this would have been an NCAA playoff game to end Gannon's season, I'd have jumped off Dobbins Landing into the bay before the teams made it back to their locker rooms.
Here's what I witnessed last night that I've never seen before and probably won't ever see again:
* A buzzer beater from just beyond midcourt (watch it here at the 1-minute mark) to win a tournament championship. It was awful for us Gannon fans, but incredible for SHU's Oliver McGlade. His Twitter feed shows this is the highlight of his athletic career. Good for him.
* A college tournament championship game where both teams reach the 100-point mark.
* A team rally on the road from 13 down with 5 minutes to play and from 6 down with under a minute to go to force OT.
* A team making 15-of-22 threes (68.2%), and getting hotter from behind the arc as the game wore on. Here's Seton Hill's 3-point shooting chart for the game: 1st half -- 5-of-9, 2nd half -- 5-of-7, OT -- 5-of-6.
* Oh, and they made all 8 of their free throw attempts, making their combined three-point and foul shot percentage a robust 76.7%. And they still needed 2 overtimes to dispose of the resilient Knights! When you shoot like that, you usually win going away.
* Andrew Cressler, Seton Hill's #3 scorer, played out of his mind for an incredible 46 minutes, scoring 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting. Through 8 games prior to the Porreco finals, he averaged just 11 ppg was 8-for-19 on threes. He made all 5 of his treys against the Knights, most of them in the clutch.
* The final play of a game at the Hammermill hitting #2 on ESPN SportsCenter's top plays the next day. Kudos to Gannon SID Dan Teliski for the link.
I'm looking at the Gannon media guide right now, and I can't think of a better Porreco final I've witnessed. Michael Hammond ripped Gannon's hearts out in 1986 with a 37-point performance including a game-winner at the horn. Gannon's loss to Northern Kentucky in 2000 when Craig Conley went wild from every spot on the floor is also one for the ages.
The Porreco championship that might compete with Friday's classic was Gannon's 54-51 upset of eventual national champion Virginia Union in 1991. Highlights included a 270-degree dunk by Derrick Price to open the game, two last-second baskets to close the first half and give Gannon a halftime lead, a clutch jumper by VUU All-American guard Walter Hurd to tie the game at 51, and Juan Rankin's heave at the buzzer to send the capacity crowd into a frenzy.
I still get chills thinking about that game even though it was -- gulp! -- exactly 20 years ago. Maybe it was fate that McGlade wins the tournament on the same hoop as Rankin did two decades apart. Yes, part of me would have preferred Gannon cruise to an unremarkable 10-point victory and sport a 7-3 record instead of an unimpressive 6-4 mark. The wiser part of me realizes that I had the privilege to witness an incredible game that will never be forgotten by those lucky enough to attend.