By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Jake McGonigle didn’t think much of his team’s chances to win.
You can’t blame him. The Holy Family University men’s basketball team trailed Jefferson University by a point with just .4 seconds on the clock Saturday afternoon.
Moreover, the Tigers had to go the length of the floor.
McGonigle, a freshman guard and a Wildwood Catholic High School graduate, was tasked with in-bounding the ball.
“I thought it was over,” he admitted. “I kind of threw it hoping someone could get a quick shot off as soon as they got it. But there’s no way I thought we could actually do it.”
Well, they did it.
McGonigle fired a pass about 15 feet past halfcourt near the Holy Family bench area that was caught by teammate Eric Esposito. Esposito quickly turned and fired a shot from about 35 feet away that found the basket, giving the Tigers an unlikely 82-80 victory over a Jefferson University team that entered the game ranked eighth in the nation in Division II basketball.
“I was supposed to throw a long pass and I saw Esposito cutting across the court so I threw it toward him,” McGonigle said. “At first, I thought I threw it too far. I thought it was going out of bounds. Then I saw him catch and throw it and I was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s no way. This might go in.’ The next thing I know everyone was running on the court to celebrate.”
Several media outlets in the Philadelphia area picked up a video clip of the play that was posted to Twitter. Quite a few people tagged ESPN in hopes that SportsCenter would pick it up for their Top 10 Plays feature.
The victory helped Holy Family end its season on a positive note. The Tigers struggled a bit this season, finishing at 10-18 overall. Jefferson suffered just its third loss in 28 games.
“Everyone was happy that we could end the season on a good note,” McGonigle said. “We had a lot of ups and downs this season. That finish made it a lot better. Everyone was jumping up and down. We were happy we were able to beat such a good team.”
McGonigle, the starting point guard for Wildwood Catholic last year as a high school senior, played in 26 of Holy Family’s games this season, making 10 starts. He averaged 0.9 points and 1.8 rebounds and tied for third on the team with 42 assists.
“It’s great competition, but I feel like I fit and I deserve to be there,” McGonigle said. “I really like the program. I want to try to get better over the summer and do whatever I can for the team and help us win a (Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference) championship.”
McGonigle had five points, four assists and a steal in Saturday’s extraordinary win.