King's Fights Through Adversity to Beat Cooper Union at the Buzzer (Again)
This past February, the last time King’s and Cooper Union faced each other in basketball, former four-year starter Caleb Trouwborst ended his collegiate career, and King’s 2016-17 season, like this.
Trouwborst’s last-second basket completed King’s comeback win against their inner-borough rivals in light of the always controversial officiating that presents itself in games between the two sides.
Last Friday night, King’s fought through more preposterous officiating and two injuries to beat Cooper Union at the buzzer, with signs of déjà vu all over the court.
After losing both senior Carter Fletcher and freshman Luke Chambers to injury, King’s found themselves up by two points (72-70) with 18 seconds remaining in the game with Cooper Union to inbound the ball. Following the inbounds and 13 seconds of tight defending by captain Justin Cox, Cooper Union’s Stephen Tang pulled up and drained an off-balance shot from just inside the three-point line to tie the game.
But, the refs didn’t see it that way.
Despite Tang’s feet clearly being on the three-point line during his shot, the referees ruled the shot a three-pointer, giving Cooper Union a one-point lead with five seconds left in the game.
“I was a little upset because I knew it wasn’t a three,” King’s head coach Bill Mangarelli stated. “But as usual in this place, we kinda get the short end of the stick.”
With the referees seemingly handing Cooper a win, King’s looked for a miracle to come out of this horrendously-officiated game on top. Sure enough, King’s found the answer to the prayers in the form of semester-student, Blake Eskew.
With five seconds and the ball under their own basket, Cox inbounded the ball to Eskew. Eskew then made a bolting run cross-court run and pulled up right on the three-point, releasing the ball right before the final buzzer sounded.
Drain-o! King’s wins 73-72.
“Coach called the play for DJ to get the ball but it didn’t work,” Eskew said via Instagram. “Justin improvised and got me the ball, I got lucky and hit the shot, and we won. It was pretty sweet.”
Yet again, King’s was in a predicament against Cooper Union. With the foul calls going 13-3 in favor of Cooper Union early and co-captain DeAngelo McGary picking three quick fouls, King’s dug deep and pulled off the win.
Freshman Demetrius Sumpter led the way for King’s in the game with the emphatic stat-line of 21 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks and four assists. Captain Justin Cox earned his first double-double of the season, scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds and despite being in foul trouble, DeAngelo McGary tacked on 12 points, with eight of those 12 coming down the stretch in the second half.
“DJ put the team on his back in the first half,” Cox stated. “Blake finished us off, and all-in-all it was a good team performance. It was a tough game, we came out on top, and being 2-0 feels good.”
When asked about the officiating in the game, Cox chuckled before stating, “I’m here so I won’t get fined,” the trademark of NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, who is notorious for his short and bleak statements in post-game interviews.
Unbeknown to the Texan, there are no fines for speaking out against poor officiating in the HVIAC.