A wild end to a wild game as Eastern Michigan loses heartbreaker to Miami, 58-56
The Eastern Michigan student section, two dozen strong, stormed onto the court. Eagles players mobbed one another in celebration. And coach Charles Ramsey ran a full lap around the Convocation Center floor, arms thrown over his head, leaping for joy.
It took another three minutes before Eastern Michigan was told it had lost a basketball game so bizarre that it left those on both sides struggling to find anything to compare it to.
Miami freshman Jon Harris drained a 3-pointer from the corner to give the RedHawks a one-point lead--their first of the game--with 1.2 seconds remaining in the game. Eastern Michigan’s Derek Thompson answered with an even more improbable 25-foot leaning jumper of his own—only to have officials wave the shot off, saying the ball left his hand after the clock ran out on Miami's 58-56 win Saturday afternoon.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Thompson said. “There’s no way to describe how to deal with something like that. It’s just heartbreaking.”
On the game’s final play, Brandon Bowdry inbounded from under the Eastern Michigan basket, throwing a baseball pass to Jamell Harris at three-quarter court.
Harris, who caught the ball while falling out of bounds, flipped it to Thompson, who stepped through two defenders and let go a running 3-point attempt that ripped through the net, setting off the wild celebration that only served to make the officials’ final verdict that much more painful.
And the loss would have been hard to swallow for the Eagles, even without the disallowed shot from Thompson.
Eastern Michigan allowed just 15 points in the first half, led 40-20 with just over 15 minutes left and saw a nine-point lead disappear in the final 100 seconds of play.
Ramsey said he’d never been a part of a game like that at Eastern Michigan. Miami coach Charles Coles said he’d never seen back-to-back buzzer beaters. And Bowdry said it was the wildest game he’d ever been a part of.
“I mean, wow,” Bowdry said, shaking his head. “I don’t even know what to tell you.”
The heartbreak for Eastern Michigan was so great that Coles had a hard time enjoying the win.
"Right off the bat, you feel bad for Eastern," Coles said. "I mean that. I know Charles, and you feel bad."
Despite trailing 28-15 at half, Coles liked his team's chances of making a comeback. But as the second half went on, even he had lost hope.
“I felt, with about seven minutes to go in the game, that we couldn’t catch them,” Coles admitted. “But Jon Harris saved the day for us.”
Harris was perhaps the unlikeliest of all heroes for the RedHawks.
The freshman had played sparingly of late for Miami, probably because he hadn’t made a 3-pointer since Nov. 16 and was 1 of 15 behind the arc coming into Saturday’s game.
“I recruited Jon Harris because I thought he could shoot,” Coles said. “But he gets to Miami, and he couldn’t fall out of a boat and land in the water.”
But Harris, who finished with a career-high 14 points, found his stroke at the right time, burying three 3-pointers in the last minute and a half.
“He should never have been left open,” Ramsey said of Harris’ game-winner. “It was one of our upperclassmen that made the mistake, and it cost us.”
Harris had a defender draped all over him when he released the shot, but Ramsey thought Harris should have been denied the ball to begin with.
“He should have never made the catch,” said Ramsey. “If they drive it, so what. We should have been there on the catch.”
Allen Roberts scored a team-high 19 points for the RedHawks, including 12 of their 15 first-half points.
Bowdry had 19 points and 11 rebounds on the afternoon for the Eagles. J.R. Sims scored 13 for Eastern Michigan, and Thompson added eight.
Had Thompson’s final shot counted, it would have been the Eagles’ third win in four games. Instead, Eastern Michigan drops to 6-16 overall and 3-6 in the Mid-American Conference. Miami improves to 11-2 (6-3 MAC).
“We fought hard,” Thompson said. “We shouldn’t have let them back in the game. We had the game won, so it’s a heartbreaker.”