On this day in 1998, one of the most memorable shots in March Madness history was hit, when Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew sank Mississippi with a buzzer-beater.
There may not March Madness this season, but that won’t stop us from taking a look back at some of the most epic moments in NCAA Tournament history. In fact, one of those great moments occurred 22 years ago today, when Bryce Drew hit his epic shot to top Ole Miss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The buzzer-beater, now known simply as “The Shot,” came on March 13, 1998. The site was the Myriad Convention Center in Oklahoma City, with the Ole Miss Rebels earning a No. 4 seed in the tournament’s Midwest Region after a strong 22-5 regular season.
The opposition was Valparaiso, the champions of the Mid-Continent Conference (which is known as the Summit League today). Led by head coach Homer Drew, the Crusaders put together a 20-8 mark, fielding a competitive squad featuring Drew’s son, senior guard Bryce.
The Rebels were clinging to a two-point lead in the final moments when Drew missed a three-pointer with five seconds remaining, and Ole Miss grabbed the rebound. Valpo fouled Anyu Sesay, a 74-percent foul shooter, and he missed the first of two free throws.
Sesay missed both free throws and the Crusaders corralled the rebound following the second miss, leading to one of the most epic shots in NCAA Tournament history.
The play was brilliantly drawn up by Homer Drew, who had the Crusaders get the ball into the hands of Bill Jenkins right around midcourt. That left the one Ole Miss defender in the area with a choice of whether to go with Bryce Drew or stick with Jenkins, leaving him a slight second of hesitation.
Jenkins made the defender pay for hesitating, kicking the ball out to Drew, who ran to the wing and nailed the game-winning three-pointer to send Valpo on to the second round. The Crusaders ended up using the momentum of that shot to go on a mini-tournament run of their own, beating No. 12 seed Florida State in the second round to advance to the Sweet 16.
Even though the Crusaders saw their run come to an end in St. Louis with a 74-68 loss to Rhode Island, Bryce Drew’s incredible shot has become one of the most defining moments in tournament history. There has not been one list of top buzzer-beaters yet that does not include “The Shot,” and it is a frequent highlight that gets played in the run-up to March Madness every year.