Brigham Young guard Craig Cusick learned his father had been diagnosed with cancer just a few hours before playing in an in-state grudge match against Utah State on Tuesday night.
Cusick was able to end an emotional day with a smile on his face as he was mobbed by teammates after he grabbed an offensive rebound in the final second and in the same motion sent the game-winning shot back through the net giving his team a 70-68 victory.
It was the only shot Cusick made in the contest and it followed a long shot from Matt Carlino that bounced off the front of the rim into Cusick's hands near the foul line. Cusick did make two free throws earlier and finished with four points.
"As a player, you couldn't dream it any better," Cusick told the Deseret News. "I was just fortunate. … I saw that when Matt shot it there was a chance it would be a little bit short. I ran to where I thought it was going to come off and I was fortunate."
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Cusick did not discuss his father's condition during his postgame news conference, but the Salt Lake Tribune provided some details. According to the paper, doctors found a cancerous tumor Tuesday afternoon, two days after Randy Cusick collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital with a then-unknown condition.
It had to bring a smile to the elder Cusick's face watching his son's heroics. In an interview with KSL radio after the game, Cusick said his father watched the game from his hospital bed and numerous family members were able to share the experience because they were in town visiting his father.
"He's been having some serious health issues that just recently popped up in the last day or so, and things got a little worse for him today, and that's just why it makes it a really special day for us, to have my family here, all in town, and to be able to end the game like that," Cusick said. "...I know he was excited to watch the game in the hospital bed, and I can't tell you how grateful I am to be here."
"The great thing is that there's nowhere else he would rather have me be than on the basketball court playing. He's great man and I love him so much, and I'm just happy to be on this team and have this dream come true for me--especially on this night."
The game was originally scheduled Dec. 5 but the schools agreed to postpone it when Utah State junior Danny Berger collapsed in practice Dec. 4 when his heart stopped. He was revived by team athletic trainer Mike Williams.
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