Before we get started with clutch moments 5-1 today, here's a little something to get your mental tummy rumbling for them. For the record, this one didn't make the cut because it was kind of a hidden play in a game that ended up being lost anyway. It deserves being noted though, and in fact it's the whole reason I decided to go with an honorable mention category. Please enjoy.
Xavier was undefeated on American soil coming into the game against Auburn, a mediocre program having a down year. After the Musketeers roared out to a comfortable halftime lead, the result seemed like a matter of going through the formality of a second half before heading home for Benihana's or whatever. Then X dissolved like sugar in warm tea, eventually needing two game-tying buckets in the final minute of regulation just to keep it from slipping away.
Matt Stainbrook steal with a two seconds left in regulation, +25% win probability. Auburn threw the ball in to big man Cinmeon Bowers, who already had 11 points in the second half, and let him go to work on Matt Stainbrook. When Bowers spun toward the rim - no doubt with glory on his mind - Stainbrook deftly relieved him of the basketball to take the game to overtime.
Xavier managed to play Auburn even in the first overtime, but the next bonus period was a bridge too far for Xavier. This was a loss that haunted the Muskies pretty much the rest of the year, as Auburn was hot garbage and showed up as a bad loss on the Xavier resume.
What we said at the time:
"After leading by 14 points with 15 minutes left, the Musketeers simply let the foot off the gas and needed a heroic 5-point swing the last 40 seconds to even force overtime."
"There have been better nights for Matt in an X uniform, and there are almost sure to be better ones to come, but the game hinged in the paint, where Auburn had a 10 point advantage and were able to corral 3 more of their own misses after the break."