Oakland University added another chapter to March Madness by reaching the 2005 NCAA men's basketball tournament with a 12-18 record.
Pierre Dukes hit a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining to upset top-seeded Oral Roberts 61-60 on March 8, 2005 to win the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament and an automatic bid to the NCAAs. It was Oakland's first NCAA Tournament appearance. Then the Grizzlies made history as the first No. 16 seed to win. They beat No. 16 Alabama A&M 79-69 in a play-in game, but lost to North Carolina in the first round, 96-68.
How they got there is the sports moment judged the greatest in school history. Oakland's website told the story in 2010:
This is the play that needs no introduction in Oakland University basketball circles. It's simply known as "The Shot."
Trailing Oral Roberts by two points with the clock ticking away, senior guard Pierre Dukes knocked down what is the most famous shot in school history when he sank a 3-pointer from the sideline to put the Golden Grizzlies in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the history of the men's program. However the most famous shot in the history of the program was made by a guy who was not expected to take it.
"The play was actually for (tournament MVP) Rawle Marshall to take his guy one on one and take the shot," said Oakland University head coach Greg Kampe. "It was a great play by Rawle to make that pass because a lot of times when the star player has his number called, he will take the shot even if it's not there. You have to give Rawle credit on that play for making the pass."
While Dukes' final stat line was not overly impressive, going two for three from the floor for seven points, the results of that one shot were much greater.
"That shot made us a national story," said Kampe. "That shot made our program."
Another reason Dukes might not have been expected to make the shot was because Dukes himself wasn't sure if he even wanted to play basketball his senior season.
"He was going to quit before that season," said Kampe. "He wasn't playing a lot and he told me he just wanted to graduate. It turned out we needed him to play because we needed bodies for practice. So I offered him his scholarship, and as it turned out, he played more and more and eventually became a starter."
So the guy who didn't want to play his senior year hits the biggest shot in the history of the program. That is the definition of a storybook ending.
• Hollie L. Lepley Hall of Honor
Above: A photo of Pierre Dukes scoring the winning basket against Oral Roberts from The Daily Oakland Press hangs inside the main entrance to the Athletics Center O'rena in Auburn Hills, Mich. (Courtesy Oakland University)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Northern Michigan and North Texas
• Tuesday: Northwestern State and Oakland
• Wednesday: Ohio and Old Dominion
• Thursday: Penn and Presbyterian
• Friday: Princeton and Providence