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Upstate scores six in final 10 seconds, shocks Gardner-Webb on Gainey miracle three

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

CHARLOTTE – “What just happened?”

The question that Dave Dickerson asked shortly after sitting down at the press table after the game – and, honestly, nearly everyone who covered and watched it – summed up a memorable and frenetic sequence.

Gardner-Webb took a five-point lead on two Anthony Selden free throws with 16 seconds left to play. Then, Jordan Gainey happened.

Gainey put home a triple to cut the lead to two at 76-74 with nine seconds remaining. Following a timeout, Gardner-Webb went to inbound the ball. Upstate came away with a steal by Mysta Goodloe, who found Gainey on the right wing. Gainey took a step, then heaved a last-second triple that banked off the backboard and found its home. The Spartans turned away a desperation heave from the Runnin’ Bulldogs, claiming a thrilling, 77-76 quarterfinal result in Bojangles’ Coliseum Friday afternoon.

“Floyd and Mysta did a good job of getting a deflection and getting me the ball,” Gainey said. “I saw two defenders come at me on the left. I thought I was gonna be able to get it off there. Then I saw space in the corner, took one dribble and a side step, and got all my legs that I had left under me to just get it off.”

No, Gainey did not call bank.

“It just felt good coming off (my hand),” Gainey said. “That’s all that matters.”

Dickerson recognized the importance of Gainey to the club and the significance of the shot.

“(Forward) Floyd Rideau said it when we were walking into the locker room – sometimes it’s not about the Xs and Os, it’s about the Jimmys and the Joes. We had Jordan Gainey today,” Upstate coach Dave Dickerson said. “Big-time shot, big-time play. We’re excited for our team, for our program, and for our university. Most importantly, I’m excited for those guys who stuck with it.”

Gardner-Webb (15-16) led by as many as eight in the second half, taking that lead on the second of two DQ Nicholas free throws. Upstate (16-14) gradually chipped away at the lead, working it to one on a Goodloe jumper at the 2:42 mark. The Spartans led once after a Nicholas jumper gave Gardner-Webb a 51-50 advantage with 12:33 to play – and they did so for .1 seconds.

“This is probably one of the first times this year where we kind of lost our composure, but we kind of got it back. That’s the maturity of this team,” Dickerson said. “Our composure has gotten better throughout the year. Mysta made some good plays, but (guard) Trae (Broadnax), Floyd Rideau, and Jordan just made some big plays. Our composure was really, really good today.”

Gardner-Webb finishes the season under .500 for just the third time in coach Tim Craft’s 10 seasons.

“I just wanna credit Upstate. They just played a great game,” Craft said. “I thought it was a wonderful college basketball game if you’re a fan. It was certainly hard the way it ended for us, but I think Upstate deserves a lot of credit. Gainey made two unbelievable plays there at the end – he hit two huge shots when we kind of had the game in-hand. It’s a difficult way to finish the season."

Gainey led Upstate and all scorers with 25, hitting 9-of-16 from the deck and 3-of-8 from distance. Gainey also knocked down all four free throws he tried. Trae Broadnax and Khydarius Smith added 12 each, with Mysta Goodloe contributing 10. The Spartans hit 26-of-54 (48.1 percent) from the field, with 42.9 percent (9-of-21) of their tries from three finding the net. Upstate also hit 16-of-19 (84.2 percent) from the line in the contest. Upstate converted 17 Gardner-Webb miscues into 24 points.

Five Gardner-Webb scorers finished in doubles. Kareem Reid paced the Runnin’ Bulldogs with 19 points and seven rebounds. Anthony Selden tallied 16, hitting 6-of-10 from the deck and 3-of-4 from the line. DQ Nicholas added 15, with Lucas Stieber and Caleb Robinson contributing 11 apiece. The Runnin’ Bulldogs also shot 26-of-54 from the field, connecting on 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) from distance and 19-of-29 (65.5 percent) from the line.

Upstate advances to Saturday’s first semifinal contest, where it will take on top-seeded Asheville. The contest is set for a noon (Eastern) tip inside Bojangles’ Coliseum, with streaming available on ESPN+.


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