It will be known forevermore as Miracle IV. Final score: Chaminade 71, fourth-ranked Southern Methodist 70. The winning basket came on an inbounds play that began with the clock reading 0:00.
Miracle I came two years ago when tiny Chaminade, an NAIA school, beat No. 1 Virginia. Miracle II was a victory over Louisville last year. Miracle III was a buzzer-beater against Louisville just three days ago.
Today's win came on a 20-foot jump shot from the corner by 6-foot senior guard Keith Whitney. It took place after officals ruled there still was time left even though the clock had run to zero.
"They said the buzzer hadn't gone off," said SMU Coach Dave Bliss, whose stunned team dropped to 9-1. "I really don't understand it. But that's not why we lost the game. We lost because we were lethargic in the first half."
Whitney, who hit 10 of 15 shots from the field for 21 points, never thought he would get a chance to take the last shot. "We knew there was less than a second left, so the shot had to come fast," he said. "We wanted to throw a lob in the middle but they had it all jammed up. I just went to a spot and when Mark (Rodrigues) threw me the ball, I tried to shoot it in one motion.
"It was, basically, a prayer."
Chaminade (11-4) refused to back down from the bigger Mustangs. While Whitney and Rodrigues, who hit the winning shot against Louisville, scored from outside (making 15 of 22 combined), center Tony Randolph, the senior from Staunton, Va., who was the hero of Miracle I, challenged Jon Koncak (24 points, 12 rebounds) inside, putting him in foul trouble while getting 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Silverswords took the lead, 69-68, on an 18-footer from the right base line by Whitney with 35 seconds left. SMU held the ball until Scott Johnson hit Koncak for a beautiful pick-and-roll layup, making it 70-69 with 12 seconds to go.
Coach Merv Lopes called time out. The inbounds went to Rodrigues. He sprinted up court and had a shot from behind, partially blocked. The ball hit several hands and went out of bounds under the basket. The clock read 0:00. The Mustangs hugged each other at midcourt in celebration. But the PA announcer was yelling over and over, "SMU, clear the court, the buzzer hasn't sounded."
The officials ruled Chaminade would get to inbound under the basket. In the meantime, Koncak and Rodrigues started shoving each other, a full-scale fight seemed possible. But Bliss and Lopes got their players to their respective benches.
"We wanted to throw a lob inside because we thought that's all we would have time for and they would shut Keith down," Lopes said. "Keith was our last option. Nothing else was open, so it went to him and he shot. When the ball rattled the rim, it scared the hell out me."
But it rattled in and Chaminade had done the impossible, again. Miracle IV. "I never even heard of Chaminade until the Virginia game," said Whitney. Then he grinned: "Yes SMU, there is a Chaminade!"