He finally made it back to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament as Radford’s head coach in the sports moment judged the greatest in school history.
Kevin Robinson scooped up an offensive rebound and drained a 14-footer at the buzzer to give the Highlanders a 63-61 victory against UNC Asheville on Feb. 28, 1998. It gave Radford its first Big South Tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth.
The shot capped RU’s improbable rally from a 21-4 deficit in the first half. UNCA lost its big lead early in the first half and fell behind by eight with two minutes remaining. But the Bulldogs tied the score at 61 on Kevin Martin’s 3-pointer with 15 seconds to play.
In the final seconds, Radford’s Chibi Johnson drove for a final shot, which was deflected by Martin. Robinson scrambled for the ball and threw up a turn-around jumper to give Radford the victory.
“Kevin asked me in the locker room if it went in,” Johnson said.
“I wasn’t sure if I got it off in time,” Robinson said. “I can’t describe it. It’s unbelievable.”
Radford’s seniors also fulfilled a dream they had been chasing since they were freshman.
“I think they figured they’d come in and dominate the conference and go to the NCAA tournament every year,” Bradley told the Baltimore Sun. “About a dozen games ago, it hit them in the face. This is it, fellas. This is your last chance.”
The Highlanders made it count.
“At times like this, I might want to go back on my all-encompassing statement that ‘I love tournament time,'” UNCA head Coach Eddie Biedenbach said after the game. “I don’t like it after a loss like this too much, but this is what college basketball is all about.”
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Quinnipiac and Radford
• Tuesday: Rensselaer (RPI) and Rhode Island
• Wednesday: Rice and Richmond
• Thursday: St. Bonaventure and St. Cloud State
• Friday: Saint Joseph’s and St. Lawrence