SALT LAKE CITY — There isn’t a more exciting play in basketball than a last-second game-winning shot, like the one Utah’s Parker Van Dyke made to beat UCLA on Saturday.
While Van Dyke’s shot will be a life-long memory for him and the other Utes on the floor and will go down in Ute basketball lore, it may not even be the best in Ute basketball history.
Here’s a look back at five other memorable buzzer-beaters in Utah basketball history.
March 4, 1985, Huntsman Center — It may have been the most implausible victory in Ute history, perhaps in college basketball history.
The Utes trailed by one point with one second left and Wyoming had the ball out of bounds halfway between midcourt and the Utah basket. All the Cowboy player inbounding the ball had to do was throw a high pass to the Wyoming side and once it was touched, the game would be over. Instead he threw a long pass over everyone’s heads to the baseline, meaning it was Utah’s ball at the same spot since no one touched the ball. With another chance, Ute coach Lynn Archibald drew up a play for Manny Hendrix, who came off a screen by Bobby Adair, took a pass from Gale Gondrezick in the corner and, after twisting 180 degrees in the air, buried a 23-footer that hit nothing but net, giving Utah the improbable 61-60 victory.
Hendrix, who is now an associate athletic director at the U., called it “the greatest moment of my life.”
Wyoming coach Jim Brandenburg had one of the all-time quotes after the unlikely loss, saying, “We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”
MILLER TO VAN HORN
March 6, 1997, Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas — It looked like an easy first-round game in the WAC Tournament for the Utes, who were 24-2, ranked No. 3 in the country, and playing a mediocre SMU team that was 16-12.
However, the Mustangs took a 14-point second-half lead before the Utes began their comeback and pulled within one. The Utes looked dead and buried when Keith Van Horn missed a jumper with 2 seconds left. However, the ball was knocked out of bounds under the Ute basket at the 0.3 mark, which was just under the NCAA rule of 0.4 seconds when a player was allowed to catch the ball and shoot. So the Utes knew their only hope was a tip-in. That’s exactly what they got when Andre Miller flipped a high pass, which Van Horn reached back with his right hand to get and, in one motion, put it through the hoop from 5 feet away for the 59-58 victory.
”I thought I overthrew it, but he has long arms,'' said Miller. Utah went on to win the WAC title and advance to the NCAA Elite Eight.
BUSTER AT THE BUZZER
Jan. 24, 1976, Marriott Center, Provo — The Utes were going for a final shot, which Jeff Judkins took with time running down. Judkins’ 20-footer from the left side went just to the right of the rim, where Buster Matheney grabbed the ball and dropped it through the hoop as the buzzer sounded.
The play was controversial as each side saw it differently. Some thought offensive goal-tending should have been called — this was a time when dunking wasn’t allowed, and some thought Matheney’s fingers were above the rim — while others believed it came after time had run out. But official Irv Brown was decisive in calling it good and the Utes ran off with a 76-74 victory over BYU.
KARL FROM THE CORNER
Dec. 22, 1979, Special Events Center — A Louisville team that would go on to win the NCAA title three months later came to town undefeated and ranked No. 11 in the country against a 5-3 Utah team, which had lost to rival Utah State three days earlier.
Led by Darrell Griffith, who would return to Utah a few months later as a rookie for the Utah Jazz, the Cardinals were big favorites against a Ute team led by juniors Danny Vranes and Tom Chambers. However, it was another junior, forward Karl Bankowski, who turned out to be the hero for the Utes on this night as he sank a 20-footer from the right corner as the buzzer sounded, giving the Utes the 71-69 upset victory.
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March 13, 2004, Pepsi Center, Denver — In the finals of the 2004 Mountain West Conference Tournament, a couple of months after coach Rick Majerus abruptly resigned, Utah had fought back from 41-33 halftime deficit against UNLV under interim coach Kerry Rupp.
The game was tied at 70 as point guard Tim Drisdom worked the clock under 10 seconds, went right, then reversed himself and found Nick Jacobson coming off a screen on the left side. Jacobson, who would go on to be Utah’s career leader in 3-point makes, fired up the 3-pointer from the left angle and fell back as the ball swished through the net with 1.8 seconds left. With no timeouts left, the Rebels didn’t come close on a desperation shot and the Utes went away with the 73-70 victory.