No, Terrell Brown Jr. didn’t call bank on his game-winning 3. He was just worried about beating the buzzer.
The senior caught the ball at the top of the arc with five seconds left on the shot clock and needed to make something happen as Arizona was locked in an 81-81 tie with Washington State late in double overtime.
So Brown took one dribble toward the rim, hoisted a deep 3, and watched as the ball banked in with 13 seconds left in the period.
How did it feel coming off his hand? Supernatural.
“What people don’t know is my grandfather passed away when I was back home in Seattle on Friday night,” Brown said. “So I guess you can say that was him guiding that basketball in.”
The clutch 3-pointer was the defining basket in Arizona’s eventual 86-82 victory and a fitting tribute to a man he loved dearly.
“He meant a lot to me,” Brown said. “I remember him coming to my Seattle U games a couple times and he also came to my Shoreline games in my JuCo years. And it’s just a connection that you can go over there for Thanksgiving and stuff and you always have a home cooked meal.”
Brown said it was his first game-winning shot at the Division I level, though his godfather Jason Terry, now an assistant coach with the Cats, said those big plays are in the Brown DNA.
“I’ve been watching this kid since he was in junior high make and take big shots,” Terry said. “I mean, he’s just a winning basketball player.”
Terry, who is close with Brown’s father, knew Brown’s grandfather too. He said he used to get rides to school from him as a kid growing up in Seattle. He described the eldest Brown as a good family man.
“Family was huge to him,” Terry said. “He’s just a guy that always had a smile on his face. He faced some adversities here with his health of late. We’re glad now that he can be resting peacefully and he’s in no more pain.”
While it was an emotional weekend for Brown Jr., who didn’t even get a chance to see his grandfather when UA was in Seattle because of COVID-19 protocols, he said he never considered missing Saturday’s game.
“Basketball is something that helped me get away from everything else on the outside world,” Brown said. “I know playing with my teammates and the coaching staff, they knew it. And we talked about me and Coach Miller talked about it. And it’s just something that helps me clear my mind.”
Brown seemed to play with a renewed focus, finishing the night with 15 points, one shy of his season high. He even set the stage for his game-winning 3 by blowing past his defender for the game-tying layup with 12 seconds left in the first overtime period.
“It’s something about athletes, when you come into your space on that court, in between those squared lines, it is your sanctuary,” Terry said. “And then when you’re playing with a heavy heart as Terrell was tonight, special things tend to happen.”
Brown dedicated the win and the shot to his grandfather and thanked his teammates and coaches for helping him get through the weekend. Terry said it proves how “tight knit” this team is.
“It’s not easy to lose somebody close to you, but I feel like [Brown] did a great job showing up tonight,” said freshman Bennedict Mathurin. “And Terrell is a great teammate, so it was amazing to see him being a good teammate even if the situation was not easy for him.”