You probably didn't have a vested interest in Thursday night's matchup between in-state rivals Arkansas State and Arkansas-Little Rock, but you won't find many more miraculous finishes.
Trailing by one with 3.9 seconds remaining in the game, UALR's Alex Garcia-Mendoza rebounded a missed free throw, dribbled up court and hoisted up a running one-handed prayer from 42 feet away from the rim. The shot hit the front iron, caromed high off the backboard and somehow fell in as the buzzer sounded, delivering the Trojans a 79-77 victory and a rare moment in the spotlight.A video or other embedded content has been hidden. Click here to view it.
"When it hit the front of the rim and the glass, that's when I knew it was going in," Garcia-Mendoza said by phone on Friday. "It was a lucky shot, but I'm glad it went in for the school and the fans. The team needed it."
Garcia-Mendoza's shot provides UALR (7-15, 3-8) with a rare moment of celebration in an otherwise discouraging season. The Trojans won their second straight game, toppling an Arkansas State team that is in first place in the Sunbelt League and had won six of seven games entering Thursday's contest.
When Garcia-Mendoza finally checked his cell phone after the game on Thursday night, it was flooded with messages from his friends and family back in Mexico who had seen the shot live or on SportsCenter's top plays.
The El Fuerte, Mexico native was so exhausted from fielding congratulatory calls until the wee hours of the morning on Friday that he slept for the first few hours of the team's 430-mile bus ride from Little Rock to Lafayette, La.
"My family was excited," Garcia-Mendoza said. "They watch all my games on the Internet, and they were going crazy. I talked to my family and friends for hours. That was a moment I wish they were here for."
Garcia-Mendoza is hopeful his shot will provide a much-needed jolt of momentum to his teammates, especially since it came against Arkansas State.
"It's even more special because they're the No. 1 team in our league,"he said. "It's brought us even more together. We've got some momentum going on, and I think we'll keep playing better."