Eight minutes to the final buzzer, Rich Turney rose up and hit a baseline jumper for his Seattle University basketball team, supplying an improbable 75-73 lead over No. 1-ranked UCLA in the Far West Regional of the 1964 NCAA Tournament.
The capacity crowd at Slats Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore., roared its approval. Thousands of people watching the late-night KING-TV broadcast back in Seattle went crazy in front of their mostly black-and-white sets. No one was aware at the time, but the course of college basketball history as we know it now hung in the balance at that moment.
On Friday, March 13, 1964, SU stayed with John Wooden's first national title team until the very end before losing a nerve-wracking and exhausting postseason game 95-90.
"I don't say we would have gone on and won the championship, but we should have won that game," SU forward John Tresvant said.
With Seattle U returning to full Division I championship eligibility for the first time in 33 years -- when the Redhawks host Washington in a women's soccer match at Championship Field on Aug. 17 -- this is the sixth in a series of 33 stories replaying memorable SU events previously held at the NCAA's top level (1952-80).
UCLA would win three more tournament games in 1964 and finish a perfect 30-0, providing Wooden with the first of 10 national titles in 12 years. But the Chieftains (22-6), more than anyone else in March, made the Bruins work for it, and their legendary coach knew that.
"This was a game in which I had a feeling for a long time we might lose," Wooden said. "In most games, sometime before the half, I have felt sure we were going to win. I never had that feeling in this game, and about the middle of the second half I wondered if we would. I was more concerned than in any other game."
Seattle U bothered the Bruins with its quickness, forcing UCLA into an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers while committing just 12 in the face of the Bruins' difficult full-court zone press.
The Chieftains also refused to back down from UCLA inside. Tresvant supplied 20 points and 20 rebounds. Usually low-scoring center L.J. Wheeler matched Tresvant's 20 points. The Bruins' three frontline starters, center Fred Slaughter and forwards Jack Hirsch and Keith Erickson, each fouled out.
"The night before we were supposed to play UCLA, we stayed up late, stayed up until 1, talking about beating UCLA," SU guard Peller Phillips said.
It was still unnerving stepping on the floor with the Bruins. SU fell behind 7-0 at the outset and trailed by 13, 38-25 in the first half and 58-45 in the second. But the Chieftains kept regrouping and putting the pressure on.
During the game, UCLA's Walt Hazzard, who led all scorers with 26 points, and SU's Ralph Heyward often guarded each other in a pairing that was personal and fun. They were teammates at Philadelphia's Overbrook High School before both coming to the West.
"I told him, 'You were really lucky, because we really gave it to you,' " Heyward said. "He said, 'Yeah, we were lucky.' "
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