By Scott Kindberg
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Patrick Pierson's travels in athletic communications have taken him from St. Bonaventure University in Olean, to Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Fla., to his current gig as the associate media relations director at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Arkansas guard Michael Qualls (24) celebrates with the student section after the Razorbacks’ 87-85 overtime victory over No. 13 Kentucky on Tuesday night in Fayetteville, Ark.
Along the way, he's witnessed plenty of memorable basketball moments, including FGCU's improbable run to last year's Final Four.
But what the Frewsburg native experienced Tuesday night as he sat courtside at the Bud Walton Arena was ''one of the most dramatic'' endings to a Razorbacks' game in its storied history.
See PIERSON, Page C2
From Page C1
For those who missed it, Arkansas sophomore Michael Qualls slammed home a two-hand rebound dunk with .2 seconds remaining in overtime to send the Razorbacks to an 87-85 victory over No. 13 Kentucky.
''Crashing the boards in that type of situation is the best time to crash the boards,'' Qualls told The Associated Press. '' ... They forget about you. I just saw an opportunity and took it.''
The crowd of 18,619 went bonkers, and Arkansas players, as well as still photographers and videographers, poured on to the court, believing the game was over.
But it wasn't.
That meant Pierson, a 2000 Frewsburg Central School graduate, had more work to do than is typically on his game-night responsibility list, namely clearing the court so the game could continue.
''It was a wild scene,'' Pierson said.
Once play did resume, Kentucky's inbound pass got stuck in a net that hung from the bottom of the large arena scoreboard that hangs over center court.
The jokes on Twitter followed quickly.
''When someone asked how we got the ball down,'' Pierson said, tongue planted firmly in cheek, ''we said Michael Qualls jumped up there and got it.''
It's been that kind of season for Qualls, the Razorbacks' leading scorer, who has made a habit of making appearances on SportsCenter's Top 10. In fact, his dunk Tuesday night marked the fourth time this season he's made ESPN's popular nightly feature.
''He's the most athletic kid I've ever seen,'' Pierson said.
After the game, which lasted nearly three hours, Pierson said Qualls did a couple of national radio interviews. There was still some buzz on Wednesday, but the former is used to dealing with media of all sorts after his Final Four experience at Florida Gulf Coast last March.
''It's just good for (Arkansas) to be back on the map,'' said Pierson, who noted the Razorbacks are 12-4 overall. ''This is a storied program. To get it rolling and get a marquee win is huge.
''I've seen a lot of dunks in the last year, but I haven't seen one like that. It was insane.''