Two UR Men’s Basketball players—Mack Montague and Sam Borst-Smith both juniors—have found out what it means to be overnight sensations. “I think it was pretty surprising at first,” Montague said of the attention he’s gained since a video of he and his peer’s last-second basketball play went viral last week.“But it’s been a fun experience having so much support from friends and family.”
The viral video of Montague’s and Borst-Smith’s game-winning play now now has over 300,000 views on YouTube and made the number-two spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays on Super Bowl Sunday. Fox Sports picked it up, as did Deadspin. Sports media juggernaut Bleacher Report released a clip of the play that garnered over 1,000 retweets.
In the Yellowjackets’ Feb. 7 contest against the University of Chicago Maroons, Montague and Borst-Smith found themselves in trouble. Their team had squandered a 15-point lead in the final four minutes of regulation, forcing overtime. Chicago pulled ahead, and held a three point lead with 2.7 seconds left in the game. Borst-Smith was fouled, and, as a result, knocked down his first free throw. Knowing they needed to get the ball back to have a chance at victory even if he hit the next free throw, Borst-Smith decided to open UR’s bag of tricks.
The rest, as they say, is history. Borst-Smith intentionally bounced the ball off the front of the rim, got it back, and hit it to Montague in the corner. From there, Montague sank a three to give Rochester the win.
For the players who set up the buzzer-beating play, the accomplishment didn’t initially sink in. “For me, personally, it didn’t hit home right away,” Borst-Smith said. “But then, a week later, you’re still getting notifications that some random guy in Germany who has this video on his page. It’s pretty funny stuff.”
As for the play itself, while both players noted it is a common tactic in end-of-game scenarios, they said they hadn’t tried it out much before that fateful play.
“We never practice it, really,” Borst-Smith said. “We talk about the situation, but Coach [Luke Flockerzi] never really tells us ‘We’re going to practice missing shots today.’”
To make this whirlwind of a week even crazier for these two, the game came in the middle of what has now grown to an eight-game winning streak, one that has positioned them at 16–6 overall and tied for first in their conference.
“Coach has been saying a lot that we find a way to win, and [this game] was kind of a reminder of that, and that we’re a talented group,” Borst-Smith said.
Nevertheless, the Yellowjackets are aware of moving on with their season and not getting caught up in their viral moment. “Coach is always saying ‘Keep your horizons short.’ So, while that was a great moment, it’s not one of our goals as a team,” Montague said.
While this one play won’t define their season, it’s not much of a question that this past week will be one to remember for these two players. The attention from so many places outside of Rochester and the Division III basketball community is unusual, and that does not seem to be lost on them.
As Montague put it, “Growing up playing basketball, this is basically a dream come true, to be on ESPN.”