Lehigh basketball team after beating Duke

Chapter 7

Victory!

Kim McQuilken '74, former Atlanta Falcon: I was in Atlanta, right in the heart of NCAA basketball territory, at my country club, the Cherokee Country Club. We have a sports bar setting called The Tavern. The Tavern was packed–a lot of Duke fans, a lot of North Carolina fans who hate Duke. I was probably the only Lehigh fan.

As the game goes on, we keep hanging in there. People thought Duke was going to run away with it in the second half. I said, "If Lehigh wins, we're going to have to sing the Lehigh fight song." I did a little warmup of the fight song. ... [The] CEO of Waffle House was there. I didn't know he was in the room. He says, "Man, Lehigh's going to win this game. I want you to sit at my table." He introduces me to [the] CEO of Coca-Cola [Enterprises Inc.]. I've got two CEOs of two very recognizable companies in America who are now rooting for Lehigh to beat Duke. The whole room is hanging on every shot.

Kerr: So many people—who were doing whatever they were doing and someone would text them and say, "Lehigh is beating Duke right now"—if they weren't watching or listening, they'd go find a TV, or turn on the radio if they were in the car or whatever, because this was going to happen.

Reed: It got to the end of the game where we were making free throws, and we had enough of a lead, and it became pretty apparent [that we would win]. We had held off the emotion, and a pretty cool thing happened. C.J. walked over to the bench, walked to the players who were sitting down, and said, "Act like you've been here before." What that meant was, we played a hard-fought game, we did something that was really monumental, not only in Lehigh basketball history but the entire history of Lehigh University and even in the entire history of the NCAA Tournament. "Acting like you've been here before" means that you give your opponent respect, and just like on Selection Sunday, we thought we were going to win, so why would we now all of a sudden change our entire attitude and complexion and run around and be all excited, which you see all the time?

Greiner: A couple years earlier against Kansas, I was scared. I couldn't breathe. When I would get the ball, I was just thinking, "Don't turn it over! Don't turn it over!" But against Duke, when I got in the game, it was like, "It's about time." That's just a testament, I think, to how good our team felt going into that game.

I think we were up five, right after a full-court pass and the dunk by Gabe. And C.J. walked over to the bench and said, "Hey, we expected to win this. Show that we expected it. Show that we've been here before." And he was right. We did expect to win. It's hard to explain, but we believed we were the better team. We didn't really feel like it was that much of an upset, because we felt we were the better team.

McCollum: I didn't want to see guys acting like we never won anything. We had won conference championships before, and we should have won Michigan State, and we should have won Kansas my freshman year. ... "All right, we won. Let's celebrate behind closed doors and when we get back to campus."

The horn sounds. Game over. Lehigh beats Duke, 75-70!

MATT KERR
Final call

Kerr (recalling his call at the time): "This magical Lehigh season will continue!" Because it was magical. They had already won more games than any other Lehigh team had ever done, and now they just beat Duke, and they're going to play a second NCAA game.

This is DUKE, and Lehigh beat them! Lehigh had never won an NCAA Tournament game, and when they did, they beat Duke!

Maneri: That was one of two times in my entire life when I had a smile on my face that I couldn't force away, couldn't fake away. Basketball had never felt so good. After four years of busting our butts, doing morning workouts, double sessions, it just all came together. I thought, "We're here. We're at the pinnacle."

Piede: My head was in the clouds. We stormed the court. We wanted to be part of the moment.

Lehigh cheerleader Ariella Scalese

'CRYING CHEERLEADER': Ariella Scalese '14 was overcome with emotion at Lehigh's win over Duke. National media captured her reaction, and the moment lives on in photos/GIFs on the internet.

Scalese: I was flooded with emotion. I just started crying and jumping up and down. That's how I handled it, and somehow the [national TV] camera captured it. It was the best moment. If I could relive it again, I would.

McQuilken: We win the game. [The people in The Tavern] stand up with me, cheering.

Rearing, tearing, down the field, down the field,
Lehigh's team will never yield, never yield...

The whole room sang the [fight] song. They were cheering wildly. It was a special moment. We sang it at least twice.

Shupp: It was pandemonium. Everyone was so ecstatic about what Lehigh pulled off, a frenzy is what it was. Ninety percent of the people in the arena were pro-Lehigh, because where the game was held, you were either a Tar Heel fan or a [North Carolina State] Wolfpack fan, and you hated Duke. So everyone was favoring Lehigh.

Greiner: I can I say I grew up idolizing Duke. But I can also say I beat them. Not many people can say they defeated their heroes in the very thing they wanted to excel in.

Reed: I had to go shake hands with an icon in college basketball [Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski]—someone who had represented our country in the Olympics, in what might have been one of his most disappointing basketball moments of his career. To ask a person of that magnitude and that caliber to try to address me, I thought was inappropriate.

So I took the initiative as I went to him: "Coach, we have so much respect for your team, we have so much respect for your program and what you have done with that program for many, many years. It was an honor to be able to compete against you and your team tonight."

I didn't feel like Coach K needed to say anything to me, but I wanted to make sure that we showed the proper respect and honor to not only him and his coaching staff but also to his team and that overall iconic program of Duke.

  • Jordan Hamilton
  • C.J. McCollum
  • Brett Reed
  • Lehigh University basketball fans
  • John Adams
  • Justin Maneri
  • Mackey McKnight
  • C.J. McCollum
  • UNC fans cheering for Lehigh

Scenes from the NCAA Tournament game between Lehigh and Duke.

Greiner: All season long me and Jordan Hamilton would talk about it, and he'd always say, "Oh yeah, we're going to win the championship." I remember us losing to American at American, a tough loss, and he's still completely confident. I've never seen somebody so confident of something. "I think we're going to win a game in the NCAA Tournament." I remember him saying that all the time.

I remember thinking, "What's this guy's story?" And after it turned out that way, I asked him, "Jordan, how did you know that?" And he would say, "I just felt it in my bones." Jordan is a very spiritual guy, all about the energies of the universe and all of that, and said he could feel something special was around us and around our guys. So when we stepped on the court against Duke, we all believed we could do it. We didn't think about how awesome it was going to be out there. It was all about, "We can win this. This is a winnable game. We've played tougher games than this."

I mean, that was the matchup we wanted, and we knew we could beat them, because every guy from Day One bought into what their role was.