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“The Shot” Lore Grows

Panther basketball hits memorable game winner, reaches No. 1 play on ESPN.

Michael Soffer ’19 (arts management) and Deshawn Cann ’19 (liberal studies) are enjoying more than 15 minutes of fame.

The Panther basketball equivalent to the NFL’s legendary combo of quarterback Joe Montana and wide receiver Jerry Rice rose to No. 1 on ESPN SportsCenter Monday night, January 22 and into the wee hours of the following morning —a first in Purchase College athletics history.  

As the play replayed over and over across the country on the “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” Soffer—the man that sunk the miraculous 3-pointer at the buzzer that defeated No. 14 Wesleyan University—and Cann, the inbounding passer that found Soffer with six-tenths left down the other end of the floor (watch the video, courtesy of ESPN SportsCenter on Twitter), said the campus community can’t stop talking about the play.

With students returning to campus for the first day of classes on Wednesday, January 24, so many learned of the shot on SportsCenter rather than being here to witness history live.  

“Everyone is talking about it. Professors, students,” said Panther Athletic Director Chris Bisignano. “And I think we’ll be talking about it for a while.”

News 12 Westchester feels the same. The local cable station ran replays of “The Shot” and will feature the Purchase men’s basketball team as their “Team of the Week” tonight.

Social media blew up Monday night with word of the buzzer-beating victory at Purchase. The video and articles has been No. 1 on the Purchase College athletics website as well—the location where many news outlets picked up on the game winner. Sports Information Director Bobby Ciafardini, Assistant SID Stephanie Janasiewicz, Skyline Conference Assistant Commissioner Tom Emberley and men’s basketball head coach Kyle Martin all played roles in spreading the word postgame.

While the Montana-Rice reference is appropriate for the “Hail Mary” touchdown pass between Cann and Soffer, their Panther moment has also evoked shades of Duke’s Grant Hill and Christian Laettner in the 1992 East Regional NCAA Men’s Basketball Finals, where Laettner, receiving the full-court pass from Hill, buried a turnaround jumper at the buzzer.

Hill and Laettner did it 2.1 seconds. Cann and Soffer managed to accomplish the heroics in 0.6.

And with that, down went the 14th ranked team in the country, 71-68.

“Seeing Purchase getting nationally recognized means a lot to me because Purchase deserves to be recognized on that level,” Cann said.

“Coach drew up a play in the timeout and all I had to do was get the ball to Mike or Brian Berrios, and Mike Soffer was making tough shots all night so I went to Mike,” he added of the play. “Soffer faked out the defender and once the defender took the fake, I threw the ball and it was placed right in his hands for the shot. The buzz is nuts … just having friends and family back home watching that play on SportsCenter. And on campus, students are coming back from their winter break and talking about the play. It just makes it even better.”

The man of the hour agreed.

“We are world renowned for our arts, but it’s great to showcase that Purchase offers so many things, including a successful basketball program,” Soffer said. “To be No.1 on SCtop10 was something I never expected to happen in my life. And I’m proud to be representing Purchase as it happened.

“Our coaching staff drew up a last second play that we have practiced before but never tried with .06 left. Brian and I were placed on the sidelines to run towards Deshawn, who was inbounding the ball, then to cut back like a receiver. As I cut back, I created separation between me and my defender, and Deshawn saw and threw a full court, perfect pass, where only I can catch it. From there, I just tried to float it as smooth as possible. Luckily, the basketball gods were on my side that night.”

And that’s the story behind Purchase’s version of Montana to Rice … Hill to Laettner … Cann to Soffer … “The Shot!”

Bobby Ciafardini, SID