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Brandenburg remained to the right of the Mason guard the entire time, eventually leaning in and placing a hand in Wright’s face.

“It looked like Rob was in great position,” VCU’s Bradford Burgess said. “When he shot it, it was almost like Rob blocked it.”

It wouldn’t have been unprecedented. Brandenburg swatted Wright’s 3-point attempt in the first half, a fate Wright wasn’t about to suffer again.

“I just jumped my highest on that one,” Wright said.

The shot

Hewitt was on the wrong end of his share of buzzer-beaters during his time at Georgia Tech.

It didn’t take long to know this could turn out different.

“When Sherrod went up and shot it, I was just focused on his face,” Hewitt said. “He looked likem ‘Hey, I’m here, this is an opportunity.’ He looked confident when he went up to shoot the ball. It wasn’t like he was just throwing it up and hoping. He shot that ball like he meant it.”

With the try clear of Brandenburg, the only question was whether Wright fully adjusted for shooting on the run. Once a starter, Wright fell into a funk early in conference play and settled in as the Patriots’ sixth man.

He’d reached double digits in six of his last 10 games and was hardly in a funk. But in case anyone wondered what had happened to him, he replied with a swish after the buzzer.

“As he raises up to shot, I’m just watching his shot standing there and was like, ‘Wow, if this shot goes in, this place is going to go crazy,’” Pearson said. “Shot falls and first thing I do is run to Sherrod I was so happy. I let out all my emotions. I was just so happy. Best Valentine’s Day ever. By far.”

Smart, watching from the far sideline, could only clasp his hands on his head and slowly walk toward midcourt. Disbelief didn’t begin to cover the expression of a coach who delivered his share of surprises less than a year ago in the NCAA tournament.

The defense was nearly perfect. Maybe the Rams could have pressured the ball earlier, though it would have carried the risk of a foul. No, VCU had done precisely what it should have. Most of the time, it would be departing with a two-point win.

“I would take that shot again,” Smart said. “I don’t know exactly how far out it was – probably 30 feet or so – and Rob Brandenburg did a pretty good job contesting it. But Sherrod Wright did a better job making it.”

Quickly, official Roger Ayers approached the video monitor at the scorer’s table. Bryan Kersey donned a headset as Jeff Clark stood nearby. The three examined the evidence in front of them.

Story Continues →