Jerry Beach (@defiantlydutch)
Frantz Massenat was beginning to think he wouldn’t even get the chance to hit a dramatic shot in practice.
At the end of every pre-game shoot-around, Drexel players engage in a sudden death half-court shot competition in which the first player to drain one wins. Massenat was on deck Wednesday at Hofstra when fellow junior guard Steven Manojlovic hit his shot and sent everyone out of the gym happy.
Fortunately for the Dragons, Massenat didn’t have to wait long to try—and hit—the real thing.
Massenat authored one of the most incredible endings of this or any other college basketball season Wednesday night when he threaded a double team along the left sideline and hit a double-clutched 50-footer at the buzzer as the Dragons stunned Hofstra, 55-52.
“[Manojlovic] shot right before me so I didn’t get my shot,” said Massenat, who was still sporting an ear-to-ear grin half an hour later. “Good thing. Maybe God wanted me to save my shot for tonight.”
Massenat’s shot was the second dramatic 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds of what had otherwise been a turgid and often ugly game. Hofstra’s Taran Buie tied the score at 52-52 when he drained his seventh 3-pointer of the game, a contested shot in which Drexel’s Derrick Thomas had a hand in his face, with 5.9 seconds left.
After a Drexel timeout, Dragons guard Aquil Younger got the ball to Massenat, who was immediately swarmed by Stevie Mejia and David Imes. Massenat tried to navigate the left sideline but momentarily had the ball slapped out of his hands as the Dragons flirted with the worst-case scenario of turning the ball over with time left on the clock.
“Just don’t turn it over for a basket—that was my thinking,” Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. “At least just go to overtime.”
“One of the coaches told me ‘No matter what, make sure you just go get the ball, go get the ball,’” Massenat said. “I got it, I actually lost it, and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t throw it away.”
Mejia and Imes seemed to sag just a bit after slapping the ball away, which gave Massenat the slightest of openings once he recovered the ball.
“I saw an opening, that’s why I knew I could get the ball to the corner,” Massenat said. “They had me trapped, but when I lost [the ball] and went to go get it, it was just a little opening.”
While Thomas appeared to be trying to call a timeout, Massenat took a step through the coverage, double-clutched as he tried to draw contact and fired what looked to be an awkward shot towards the basket with a second left.
But Massenat knew it looked and felt good out of his hands. “It did,” he said with a grin. “I was just hoping the whole time, like, wow, this is gonna go in.”
It did as the buzzer sounded, which set off a wild celebration in front of the scorer’s table and absolved Drexel (7-11, 3-3 CAA) of what could have been another devastating overtime defeat. The Dragons, who are 0-3 in overtime this year, trailed by eight points with nine minutes to play before mounting a 16-5 run to take a 52-49 lead on a pair of Massenat free throws with 1:04 left.
Drexel seemed ready to ice it when Stephen Nwaukoni missed a free throw for Hofstra (5-14, 2-4) with 38 seconds left, but Kazembe Abif’s outlet pass sailed out of bounds to set up Buie’s game-tying shot.
“Better sometimes to be lucky than good,” Flint said. “We weren’t good tonight. But we were damn lucky.”
Hofstra, which fell to 2-4 in the CAA and lost at the buzzer for the first time since Jan. 3, 1995 (when Villanova coach Jay Wright was in his first season at the helm of the then-Flying Dutchmen) was left to bemoan a split-second breakdown in an otherwise perfect defensive sequence.
“Once we tapped the ball, I thought we had him,” Hofstra coach Mo Cassara said. “I don’t know whether our guys split or gave him too easy of a look, I’ll have to go back and watch it. We double-teamed the ball, made him catch it in front of us, made him bobble it. We did everything we had to do except, obviously, he got too good a look at the basket.”
For Massenat, it was a look he’d been waiting to get for his entire basketball career. Massenat said it was the first time he’d ever hit a half-court shot of his life, and it came a little less than 10 months after his potential game-tying—and perfect-looking—3-pointer from the top of the key bounced off the top of the Richmond Coliseum rim as VCU hung on for a 59-56 win in the CAA championship game.
“I missed it and I thought that was good too,” Massenat said. “About time the game-winner goes my way. I missed a couple. This is my first one. So I’m really happy.”