Before impulsively categorizing Laquincy Rideau’s game-winning 3-pointer Saturday against SMU as the greatest buzzer beater in school history, we did the prudent thing.
We let the raw hysteria of the moment subside. Then we stepped back and placed it in context. We also consulted history, and historians (such as venerable Bulls radio play-by-play man Jim Louk and longtime local USF scribe Joey Johnston). Finally, we came to a researched, reasoned conclusion.
We still think it’s the greatest one in USF history.
Here’s our top five, with a No. 6 for good measure. Our rankings were based on stakes, circumstances, and the sheer drama factor. Enjoy.
1. USF men 61, SMU 60 (March 7, 2020)
Sure, the stakes and crowd (3,587) were minimal, but the size and circumstances of the comeback put this atop our list. USF trailed by seven ― SEVEN ― when David Collins went to the free-throw line with 24 seconds to play, igniting a surreal sequence of events culminating with Rideau’s game-winner. Also consider: Senior night festivities were moved to the end of the game because Rideau’s family got stuck on Florida’s Turnpike traffic and arrived late to the Yuengling Center. Had USF lost, fewer folks might have stuck around to honor Rideau and fellow senior Antun Maricevic. Instead, no one wanted to leave.
2. USF women 89, TCU 84 (2 OT) (Feb. 2, 2004)
Freshman Jessica Dickson delivered what remains the most memorable shot in Bulls women’s history with a desperation 35-foot heave at the end of the first overtime at the Sun Dome. Dickson, still the program’s career scoring leader, added nine more points in the second OT to give Jose Fernandez his first victory against a ranked program.
3. USF men 65, FSU 63 (Dec. 11, 1993)
Sophomore point guard Chucky Atkins had gone only 7-for-24 from the floor (29.2 percent) in USF’s first three contests entering this Saturday night game before a hearty Sun Dome crowd (8,975). After a 1-for-7 first half, Atkins finally found his groove ― then a spot in Bulls lore. His off-balance jumper with a second to play lifted the Bulls to their second win against the ‘Noles in three seasons. “It’s the best feeling in the world,” Atkins said.
4. USF women 60, Mississippi State 58 (March 30, 2014)
Sophomore two-guard Courtney Williams was just starting to evolve from disillusioned sixth player to offensive dynamo when she propelled the Bulls into the WNIT semifinals on the Bulldogs’ home court. Following an MSU layup with 4.2 seconds to play, Williams snatched the inbounds pass, sped downcourt and hoisted a 3-pointer from the right wing for the game-winner.
5. USF men 87, Western Kentucky 86 (Jan. 12, 1991)
History is rife with buzzer-beaters flung by players who previously struggled to draw rim the entire night. Which leads us to former Bulls offensive catalyst Radenko Dobras. Before an announced Sun Dome crowd of 6,887, Dobras had gone 3-for-12 from the floor against the Hilltoppers before burying a 15-footer from the right corner at the buzzer. The Bulls, who trailed by four with only 16 seconds to play, improved to 11-1, still the best start in program history.
6. USF men 63, DePaul 61 (April 1, 2019)
With fewer than two seconds remaining in Game One of the best-of-three College Basketball Invitational (CBI) finals, Collins drained a one-handed floater in the lane for the winner. Ten seconds earlier, DePaul had tied the score on a 3-pointer, prompting a Bulls timeout. When play resumed, Collins took the ball in the backcourt with two perimeter players spotting up. “And it was up to David to make the read and he made a great read,” Bulls coach Brian Gregory said. Four nights later, USF won the crown.
Just missing the cut...
* Anthony Crater’s layup with 5.1 seconds to play in 70-69 Big East tourney win vs. Villanova, 2011 (Not exactly a buzzer beater)
* Collins’ go-ahead trey with six seconds to play in 67-66 win at SMU, 2019 (again, multiple seconds remained on the clock)
* Corey Allen Jr.'s floater with two seconds to play in 68-66 win at George Mason, 2013
* Charlie Bradley’s 23-footer at the buzzer to force OT vs. Florida at Sun Dome, 1983 (the Gators rolled in OT, winning 92-79)