But for sheer madness, UNCW’s upset of Southern Cal in the 2002 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is the sports moment judged the greatest in school history.
The 13th-seeded Seahawks stunned the No. 4-seeded Trojans 93-89 in overtime of a South Regional game in Sacramento, Calif.
They didn’t fold after the Pac-10 champions, who reached the Elite Eight the previous year, rallied from a 19-point deficit to force overtime.
A 3-pointer from USC freshman Errick Craven with eight seconds remaining tied the game at 80.
“When that ball went in to tie the game up, you have to ask yourself, ‘How bad do you want it?'” UNCW head coach Jerry Wainwright said after the game.
The Seahawks answered by outscoring the Trojans 13-9 to earn their first NCAA Tournament victory.
The Seahawks nearly advanced to their first Sweet 16, but lost to eventual national runner-up Indiana, 76-67, in the second round.
UNCW, a 10,599-student school from Michael Jordan’s hometown, still posted the biggest upset of the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
“This goes back to how strong our will is,” said Brett Blizzard, the CAA Player of the Year who scored 18 points. “Every team is going to make a run. You have to fight it off and come back with one of your own.”
Stewart Hare, who scored four points in the final 45 seconds of overtime, delivered the final blow with an emphatic dunk against USC’s Sam Clancy.
“That was a little bit of a surprise,” UNCW center Craig Callahan told ESPN. “I mean, Stew can dunk and all, but that’s an NBA player, and it’s overtime, and we’re like, ‘Wow, Stew.'”
On the cover and above: USC’s Desmon Farmer, Sam Clancy and Brandon Granville can only watch as Stewart Hare dunks to seal UNC Wilmington’s overtime victory in the first round game of the NCAA Tournament in Sacramento, Calif., on March 14, 2002. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: New Mexico State and New Orleans
• Tuesday: Nicholls and UNC Asheville
• Wednesday: UNC Greensboro and UNC Wilmington
• Thursday: North Dakota and Northeastern
• Friday: Northern Illinois and Northern Kentucky