Hitting a buzzer-beating jumper in an innocuous NAIA game doesn't usually merit the No. 1 spot on SportsCenter's Top Plays, but a Concordia University player did it in a way that garnered some extra attention on Monday night.
She created the shot with a bit of trickery rarely attempted at such a pivotal situation.
Inbounding the ball beneath the opposing basket in a tie game with seven-tenths of a second remaining, Danielle Clauson noticed that a College of Idaho defender directly in front of her was not facing the ball. As a result, Clauson threw the ball off the back of the unsuspecting defender, caught the ricochet in midair and buried a 10-foot baseline jumper as time expired, securing a 63-61 victory that lifted Concordia into next week's NAIA National Tournament in Sioux City, Iowa.
"It's something my dad taught me," Clauson said Tuesday by phone. "I noticed earlier in the game that her back was to me and they weren't guarding the inbounder. We had less than a second left, so I said if nobody was wide open for a layup, I'm just going to go for it."
Although the off-the-back inbounds pass is a ploy occasionally used in all levels of basketball, seldom if ever has a player pulled it off at such a critical moment. It's akin to securing the 27th out of a baseball game on a hidden-ball trick or winning a football game on a statue of liberty play.
It appears from the replay that Clauson's shot did indeed beat the buzzer, but she acknowledges that the clock might not have started on time.
"I probably got a little friendly time keeping," Clauson said. "I have a feeling I caught them off guard and they weren't ready to get the clock going when I threw it in off her back."
Even though Clauson has received some media attention from averaging 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds and being named conference player of the year, she admits the past 24 hours have been surreal. Text messages and Facebook messages have poured in from friends and acquaintances informing her they spotted her on SportsCenter or the local news in her hometown of Edmonds, Wash.
"I got text messages all through the night, some from numbers I don't know," Clauson said. "It's been pretty surreal."
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