On Sept. 17, the Stephen F. Austin compliance office started an online fundraising drive for Lumberjacks forward Nathan Bain, whose family lost nearly everything when Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas this year, inflicting catastrophic damage. Things started off slowly, with only $2,010 initially raised toward the $25,000 goal. Before Tuesday night, it had been a month since anyone had donated.
And then Bain did this:
Bain’s coast-to-coast layup gave Stephen F. Austin an 85-83 win over No. 1 Duke, the Blue Devils’ first home loss to a nonconference opponent since 2000 and their first loss ever to a non-major opponent as a No. 1 team. Bain’s shot also fueled a fast break of giving to his family’s cause: As of Wednesday afternoon, the GoFundMe campaign had surpassed $55,000.
Bain’s father is a minister, and the church and school he runs suffered significant damage from Dorian.
“The church got hit really hard,” Bain told KTRE-TV in September. “My house got hit really hard. We lost just about everything. We are still trying to stay positive because more important than the material things, everyone in our circle and immediate family and church family is safe.”
As a freshman in 2015-16, Bain was on the 14th-seeded Stephen F. Austin team that upset West Virginia and nearly took down Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament. But Coach Brad Underwood departed for Oklahoma State after the season and, as usually happens with a coaching change, the team’s remaining players had thoughts of departing as well. Bain stuck around.
“You have to put your arms around him and love on him as much as you can. Three years ago, Nate had the chance to leave, but he stayed,” said Lumberjacks Coach Kyle Keller, who replaced Underwood. “I told Nate: ‘There is a reason why you are still here. You are still with us today to help you get through what you are going through.' ”
Located in the small East Texas city of Nacogdoches, Stephen F. Austin draws just north of 3,000 fans on average to its men’s basketball home games, its fan base dwarfed in size by the sport’s titans. Those fans — all of whom, it seems, relished the sight of Duke being felled at home by a college basketball small-fry — lined up to donate to the Bain family fundraiser.
“Go Heels,” someone named Davis Craig wrote in donating $23, a North Carolina rallying cry repeated throughout the GoFundMe page.
“Sorry about your home, community and friends in the Bahamas. Hopefully this helps,” another supporter wrote, donating $25. “AND THANK YOU FOR BEATING DUKE!!!!!”
Another fan just seemed happy that Duke’s loss made everyone forget about the stunning defeat suffered by then-No. 1 Kentucky to Evansville on Nov. 12.
“Thank you for taking the heat off us in Lexington,” Corey James wrote in donating $10. “Prayers for your family.”