Cranston's Buzzer-Beater Stuns Saints In Instant Classic
Cameron Cranston shared top scoring honors for WOU with 14 points, none bigger than his game-winning three-pointer. Photo by Ron Smith.
Cameron Cranston shared top scoring honors for WOU with 14 points, none bigger than his game-winning three-pointer. Photo by Ron Smith.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

LACEY, Wash. – Just when Saint Martin’s thought they had completed the comeback, Cinderella came and snatched the game away.

After junior forward Goy Wang gave the Saints their first lead since the first basket of the game with 4.5 seconds, Western Oregon junior guard Cameron Cranston drained a three-pointer as time expired to give the No. 9 seeded Wolves the stunning 73-72 victory over the top-seeded Saints in the quarterfinals of the GNAC Men’s Basketball Championships Thursday at Marcus Pavilion.

The Saints trailed all but 26 seconds of the game and were down five when they put together a five-point run. Sophomore guard Alex Schumacher was fouled on a three-pointer with 56 seconds and proceeded to make all three free throws and tie the game at 70-70. Wang forced a turnover with 34 seconds left and was in place to gather up the rebound of sophomore guard Kyle Greeley’s miss to score the lay-in.

Following a 30-second timeout, Western Oregon quickly moved the ball across midcourt and into the hands of Cranston, who hit the game-winner from free-throw line extended to stun the home crowd.

Cranston finished with 14 points with none bigger than his final three of the game. Junior forward John Morrill-Keeler contributed a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds while junior guard Yosani Clay finished with 13 points.

Schumacher led all scorers with 22 points for Saint Martin’s, including 5 of 7 from three-point range. Senior forward Brett Reed finished with 16 points and six rebounds and sophomore guard Christian Haffner added 10 points.

Western Oregon improves to 9-17 on the season and will face No. 5 seed Central Washington in the semifinals on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Saint Martin’s drops to 18-9 overall and will wait for the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday to see if it earns an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.

The home crowd was definitely pulling for Saint Martin’s but Western Oregon had an upset on the mind from the start, pulling away from a 4-4 tie early with a 7-0 run that culminated on Morrill-Keeler’s lay-in at the 15:45 mark for an 11-4 Wolves lead. The Saints brought the Wolves back within one, 13-12, on sophomore guard Tyke Thompson’s three-point play six minutes in.

Western Oregon scored on its next two possessions, going back up 18-12 on junior guard Daisone Hughes’ pull-up jumper with 13 minutes to go. The Wolves maintained the advantage the rest of the period, taking its biggest lead of 30-22 on sophomore guard Colin Warmouth’s three-pointer at the 5:11 mark before eventually going into halftime with the 38-32 lead.

The Wolves extended their lead to 13 points early in the second half, going ahead 51-38 on Morrill-Keeler’s three-point play three-and-a-half minutes in. The Saints cut the deficit back to single digits when Haffner’s jumper made it 53-46 with 12:40 and Schumacher made it a three-point game with his three-pointer with 9:03 left.

Western Oregon charged right back with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes, going back up 11 on Clay’s three-pointer at the 5:47 mark. From that point, however, it was the Saints making the run and electrifying the crows, outscoring WOU 13-2 over the next five minutes. The run ended on Schumacher’s three free throws, which set the stage for the thrilling ending sequence.