Stonehill College junior makes top ESPN highlight with mid-court basket in OT win
By Jim Fenton
EASTON, Mass. - His unlikely game-winning shot at the buzzer from near mid-court was special enough.
For Stonehill College men's basketball junior forward Patrick Lee, though, the circumstances involved with his hard-to-believe shot on Tuesday night came direct from a Hollywood script.
Not only did Lee hit an improbable turnaround shot from about 40 feet away to give the Skyhawks a stunning 84-82 overtime victory over host Le Moyne College, but he did so while playing just 10 minutes away from his hometown of Fayetteville, N.Y.
There were about 100 family members and friends on hand at the Ted Grant Court in Syracuse to watch not only Lee, but his younger sister, Torie, a point guard on the Le Moyne team that lost to Stonehill earlier in the night.
Of all the gyms in the Northeast-10 Conference, Patrick Lee picked the one closest to his home to sink a shot that was shown nationwide on ESPN and picked as the cable network's top play of the day.
"It was like a Disney story,'' said Stonehill men's basketball coach David McLaughlin, whose team somehow overcame a seven-point deficit in the final 19 seconds. "It was surreal. He must have had 100 family and friends there. They packed the place. It looked like a home crowd when he hit the shot.''
After Le Moyne's Nate Champion missed a foul shot with 2.5 seconds remaining, Stonehill's Ivan Almeida grabbed the rebound and fired a perfect outlet pass to mid-court where Lee grabbed it and turned around quickly to get the shot off in time.
The ball swished through the net at the buzzer, giving Stonehill a shocking win after it had trailed by seven points not only late in OT, but also with 58 seconds to go in regulation.
"I couldn't have asked for a better place to do it,'' said Lee, "because all of my family and friends were at the game. I had family from California, Minnesota, Buffalo all come in for my sister's game and then my game after. It was great.
"My mom (Janine) gets really into the games. She's basically our No. 1 fan. She was going crazy in the stands. My dad (Michael), who really doesn't show that much emotion during the games, even jumped when the shot went in.''
Ironically, Lee's father was the head basketball coach at Le Moyne from 1979-83 after playing at Syracuse University.
Lee, who is averaging 10.4 points and 6.7 rebounds entering Saturday's home game against Saint Rose, had missed 7 of 10 shots before connecting on the game winner, and he had taken only two 3-pointers all season before that, making both.
"We were kind of expecting the player to make the free throw,'' said Lee, whose uncle Greg, played for the Seattle Seahawks. "We were going to have Ivan take the ball out of bounds and have me go set a screen for Brian Hamor, who hit the 3-pointer at the end of regulation.
"He was going to come around and we were going to get him the ball. On a miss, I told Ivan I was going to go deep and that's what happened. He hit me with the outlet.''
There were no defenders within five feet of Lee, who didn't hesitate when he got the ball, turning and letting it fly.
"We actually mess around in the gym a lot throwing up crazy shots like that,'' said Lee, "so that could have played a part in me making the shot. Every now and then, one will go in.
"When it left my hand, I knew it was on line so I knew I had a shot at it. It went in and I just kind of froze and didn't really know what was going on. All my teammates came running at me and I ended up at the bottom of the dog pile.''
It didn't take long for ESPN to get a clip of the shot and put it on the air. As the Stonehill team bus was making the five-hour trip back to Massachusetts in the early-morning hours, Lee's phone started ringing.
"Around 2 a.m. on the bus ride back,'' said Lee, "a couple of my friends called me and said they were just laying in bed and rolled over and saw that Stonehill was on ESPN and they told me I was the top play of the day.
"It's been pretty crazy the last couple of days, a lot of people congratulating me. They had it on the cafeteria TV (Wednesday) and a lot of the students were going crazy.
"It's just a crazy feeling. It's still kind of unreal that it was on SportsCenter and that the shot actually went in. It's something you always dream about, hitting a buzzer- beater from half court and it actually happened. I couldn't have asked for a better place to have it happen than in front of my family and friends.''