THE UNIVERSITY of the Sciences' team bus didn't turn back into a pumpkin last night, as the players and coaches rode that victorious carriage back to 43rd Street after pulling off a Fairy Godmother-loving upset of Drexel at the Dragons' own gym.
Garret Kerr scored 27 points, including the game-winning three-pointer with 2 seconds left, as USP (6-2) stunned the 2-5 Dragons, 54-52.
USP is the first non-Division I school to knock off one of those dapper D-I programs on the road during this college basketball season. D-I programs were 226-0 previously.
Last night's ball at the Daskalakis Athletic Center would not have been complete without Cinderella in the flesh, do-it-all forward Kerr, son of former Flyers star Tim Kerr.
Garret worked as a stretch four all night, banging on the boards for a team-high 10 rebounds and drifting out to 15 feet for one smooth and silky jumper after another. Are we so sure he's not a distant cousin of Kevin Love, too?
It was the upset that almost never was. Drexel couldn't buy a jumper, but the Dragons' leading scorer for the year, Damion Lee (17 points), scored on a backdoor layup to put the hosts up, 52-51.
There were 26 seconds left until the clock would strike midnight.
Kerr immediately inbounded the ball. No timeout was called. The Devils furiously pushed the ball up the court to try to hang on for just a few more seconds with Prince Charming.
There were 15 seconds until the clock would strike midnight.
Point guard T-John Casiello held the ball at the top of the key, stagnant. Both the offense and defense were stiff, eyes on Kerr, as everyone in University City knew the ball was going to No. 33. The glass slipper was falling off as Cinderella sped down the castle steps.
There were 9 seconds until the clock would strike midnight.
Kerr cut baseline, flew up beyond the arc on the right side of the court and took the pass from Casiello. Two Drexel defenders swarmed to Kerr. Who knew Cinderella was a Dragon-slayer, too? He twisted, got off a dribble and fired up a rainbow three-pointer.
Five seconds until the clock would strikes midnight.
It hung in the air long enough that Cindy's Fairy Godmother could have sewn the entire team a new set of away uniforms.
Three seconds . . . .
Swish . . . 54-52.
Garret Kerr just broke the clock.
Before he left the big dance in the Devils' horse-drawn carriage, USP coach David Pauley waxed poetically, "I guess I would say, 'Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.' There's really two plays in basketball: 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Get Garret the Ball.' "
A hotbed for aspiring pharmacists and physical therapists, who knew USP had such a good English Lit department?
Kerr, the preseason Division II Player of the Year, was equally elated.
"That was exciting . . . Good win," he said. "We wanted to end it on a shot. We didn't want to end it on a turnover or pass. If we got one up, we didn't want to let them get one back."
Pauley's two-page playbook was just enough for the Devils to get their fantastical win.
"The kids at our school, they really felt they were a part of a college today,'' Pauley said. "We don't really have those type of outlets for them, so I thought that was pretty neat. You hear, 'Ah, we don't really go to a real school, all we do is study.' "