Every kid who grows up playing basketball, whether in a gym or on the playground, rehearses the same scene over and over. It starts by grabbing the ball, then dribbling up the court, quickly but calmly, while counting down the clock, “5-4-3-2-1.” It ends by shooting and sinking a long-range bomb to win the game as time expires with the imaginary fans erupting in unbridled triumphant jubilation.
We’re guessing Denison’s Jim Leffew, a junior point guard from Vero Beach, Fla., was no exception in his younger days. And on Thursday night (Feb. 3), he was ready. He drained a three-pointer from “downtown” as the game ended to lift Denison to a thrilling 65-62 North Coast Athletic Conference victory over 15th-ranked Wabash. The victory, which took place in front of a rowdy home crowd at DU’s Livingston Gymnasium, marks the Big Red’s first win over a nationally ranked opponent since 2004.
So here’s how Thursday’s script read: With the score tied 62-62 and 4.5 seconds remaining in regulation, Leffew took the inbound pass and swiftly dribbled past the half-court line. With only one second left on the clock, Leffew pulled up and launched a 35-foot attempt that banked squarely off the backboard and rattled through the hoop as the buzzer sounded. The sudden victory cleared both the Big Red bench and the Denison student section as the players and fans stormed the court to mob Leffew.
But that, however, is only half (or, more accurately, three-sevenths) of the story of Leffew’s fantastic finish. Earlier, as the game clock ticked down from seven seconds, Wabash led by three, 61-58. It was Leffew’s three-pointer from the right corner that tied the score 61-61 with the clock reading 4.5 seconds. He had been fouled in the act of shooting, and converted his free throw to complete the rare four-point play and put the Big Red up, 62-61. Wabash was able to tie the game at 62-62 on a free throw earned by drawing a foul on its next inbound play, settng up Leffew’s fateful buzzer beater.
Leffew posted an 18-point night versus Wabash in 37 minutes of action, and he made 5 of 7 field goal attempts from behind the three-point arc, including his final two treys in the waning moments. The sure-handed guard also extended his turnover-free streak to 133 consecutive minutes, spanning nearly five games.
The video below shows all the action at the end of the game, starting with Leffew’s four-point play and ending with the on-court celebration. It runs 2:39 (with three timeouts omitted). Visit Denison Sports Information for a complete account of the Wabash contest and a link to the game stats.
Click “SPORTS” in the left column, then find and click “Denison Buzzer Beater” in the second column. The “Go Big” option for full-screen viewing will become active after the advertisement.