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Albany’s Peter Hooley might just be the NCAA tournament’s best story already

Cool as could be, Peter Hooley swished the shot that lifted Albany into the NCAA tournament. (AP Photo/The Daily Gazette, Patrick Dodson)

To hear Peter Hooley tell it, there was a sixth person on the court with Albany on Saturday night and, after watching him calmly swish the game-winner that secured an NCAA tournament berth, who’s going to argue with him?

Hooley, a junior guard from Australia, missed a chunk of the season to be with his family as his mother was dying of colon cancer, made a three-pointer for a 51-50 victory over Stony Brook in the America East final. It was an improbable shot and a more improbable win — or was it?

“When you have angels watching you, anything can happen,” Hooley told ESPN. “… This is special to me, it’s the best moment of my life. After everything I’ve been though, this is for my family, for mom especially.”

Hooley’s mother, Sue, died Jan. 30 and Hooley missed eight games during the season, spending as much precious time with her as her illness would allow. There was never any doubt that he’d come back to play, though.

“I made a promise to mum that I was going to come back [to America] and play,” Hooley told Yahoo’s Pat Forde. “She got so much joy out of watching me play.”

Back home in Adelaide, his twin sister, Emma, was watching the finish unfold.

Now, Albany (24-8, 15- America East) will wait until Sunday evening to learn when and where it will play next.

“I know Mom was with me every step of the way,” Hooley said. “She probably put that ball in the basket better than I did. So … I’m speechless. Speechless.”