Have you seen the shot? It’s been five days since guard Roxy Barahman ’20 hit a buzzer-beater to push the Yale women’s basketball team past Harvard, but I cannot stop watching the replay.
If you haven’t seen the shot, let me set the scene for you. With seven seconds left in Friday night’s home game, Harvard scored to tie the contest at 62. Then, Barahman dribbled down the floor, was double-teamed by Crimson defenders as she crossed half court, attempted to spin out of the swarm of Harvardians, nearly lost the ball in the mayhem and somehow put up a shot from just inside of midcourt right before the clock hit zero. Roxy’s last-second prayer swished through the net, as if she’d practiced the shot thousands of times. The Bulldogs immediately rushed the court to celebrate the 65–62 win over their archrival.
I’ve been mesmerized by the shot because it encapsulates everything that makes college sports so compelling. Now that I’ve had time to catch my breath, here are my three takeaways from those magical three points:
First, Barahman’s shot is the most impressive buzzer-beater I’ve ever seen. Putting aside all game-winning shots from past half court, which I think involve more luck than skill, the degree of difficulty of Friday night’s shot was off the charts.
Post spin move, Roxy barely had time to locate the basket before the buzzer sounded. She was also surrounded by defenders and was closer to midcourt than the three-point line.
Many of the great shots in the history of basketball pale in comparison to this one. Michael Jordan’s game-winner in the 1989 NBA playoffs — which NBA fans frequently call “The Shot” — was essentially from the free-throw line. Kris Jenkins’ shot to win the 2016 national championship for Villanova was neither closely contested nor required an acrobatic spin move. Even Arike Ogunbowale’s back-to-back buzzer-beaters that won Notre Dame the national title last year were both from just outside the three-point line.
I’m not saying that a bucket that wins an early-February league game should be put in the same pantheon as these iconic shots, but anytime Yale plays Harvard, the game becomes part of a 100-plus year tradition of students from the two schools competing athletically. Barahman added to that history on Friday night. If Jordan gets to claim “The Shot” for a 15-foot jumper, Roxy’s basket deserves a name, too. How about The Barahman Bucket, The Spin and Score, The Crimson Killer or Just Roxy Being Roxy?
Second, Roxy’s buzzer-beater is further proof that she should be named this season’s Ivy League Player of the Year. Barahman currently leads the Ivy League in points per game with 19.3 this season. She’s also in the top 10 in the league in assists and rebounds, and on Friday night against Yale’s biggest rival, she showed that she was clutch. On the possession before her game-winner, she gave Yale a 62–60 lead with a fadeaway bank shot and a defender in her face.
Her quickness, body control and scorer’s instinct are unlike anyone else’s in the Ivy League, resembling those of Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. Roxy was robbed last year when the league meagerly named her All-Ivy honorable mention. Hopefully, the league will right last year’s injustice this coming March and make her the second Bulldog in program history to win Ivy Player of the Year.
I know that Princeton forward Bella Alarie is the favorite to repeat as Ivy League Player of the Year with her game-changing combination of height and handles. However, voters should not discount Roxy, the league’s leading scorer, who just put the Elis on her back in a win against their oldest rival.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, Roxy reminded me on Friday that the best drama on campus unfolds on the playing fields, and all Yale students should make more of an effort to attend more games. Yalies packed the student section on Friday night and were not disappointed by the action on the court.
Buzzer-beaters, comebacks and heartbreakers are more common than you think. In my four years as a fan, I’ve watched Yale teams win in quadruple overtime, end nine-year losing streaks on last-minute plays and upset top-ranked teams in the ultimate David-versus-Goliath matchups.
February is the best month to be a fan, as there is action nearly every weekend at Payne Whitney Gymnasium and Ingalls Rink. The majority of Yalies live less than five minutes from one or the other, and this coming weekend, women’s hockey, men’s basketball and both fencing teams compete at one of these two venues.
Oh, you’re too busy to go to a game? You do all of your homework between 7 and 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays? Don’t kid yourself. Give the Bulldogs a try. You might just witness a buzzer-beater.
Matthew Mister | firstname.lastname@example.org