Crosby’s buzzer beater helps DSU men stun North Carolina Central

DOVER — John Crosby told Eric Skeeters not to draw up a play.

Instead, Crosby asked for the ball.

Crosby hit a pull-up jumper to beat the buzzer at the end of regulation Saturday, giving Delaware State a stunning 68-66 victory over North Carolina Central in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men’s basketball matchup. It was the first win for the Hornets (2-14, 1-1 MEAC) over a Division I school this year.

North Carolina Central, the three-time defending MEAC champions, had just tied the game on a free throw by Deven Palmer with five seconds left. Skeeters called timeout and received the plan from Crosby.

“I said, ‘Coach don’t worry about it, just give me the ball,’” Crosby said. “This is a big win for us.”

Crosby took the inbounds pass from Pinky Wiley and ran up the right sideline, dribbling with his right hand. He split two defenders and pulled up just inside the three-point line.

The buzzer sounded as the ball was in midair and Crosby celebrated with fans in the corner before he was mobbed by the onrushing Delaware State bench.

“John said, ‘I got it,” Skeeters said. “So we had some action for him to go and make a play. It’s funny because we’ve worked on those situations the past couple of days at practice, thank goodness for practice.”

It was Delaware State’s first win over North Carolina Central since Jan. 10, 2017. The Hornets entered the contest carrying a six-game losing streak to the Eagles.

North Carolina State defeated the Hornets last year in Dover on a layup with a second left. Delaware State returned the favor on Saturday.

“It hasn’t really hit me yet, I’m not going to lie,” Crosby said. “But this means a lot to the program. I’m not sure when the last time we beat them was. But they’re the conference champs the last three years so this is big for us. We just got to find a way to keep this momentum going.”

Crosby’s buzzer beater capped a second half rally for the Hornets who trailed by as much as 16 in the first half. Delaware State out-scored the Eagles 39-22 in the second half.

The Hornets had to pull off the comeback without Crosby, the MEAC’s leading scorer, for most of the second half. Crosby was whistled for three fouls in the first half, picked up his fourth with 14:30 left in the second half and spent a majority of the next several minutes on the bench.

Myles Carter made it a two-possession game at 59-53 on a three-pointer with 8:10 remaining. Carter drained another three to allow the Hornets to get within 61-60 with 4:54 to go.

Wiley tied it with a free throw and the Hornets eventually ended up taking their first lead of the half on a floater by Carter with 43 seconds left.

“Myles and the guys stepped up,” Crosby said. “They just went out there and played hard. I told them, be a junkyard dog, go out there and play like it’s all on the line. They were diving on the floor, getting the loose balls, doing it all.”

Crosby almost was not on the floor for the game-winner.

The foul which set Palmer to the line for the tying free throw was originally awarded to Crosby, which would have been his fifth. But the referees reviewed the play and corrected themselves, giving the foul to Fahim Jenneto.

Crosby paced the Hornets with 18 points while L.J. Stansbury added 15. Ameer Bennett followed with 11 and Carter finished with 10 points.

“We competed well all week in practice then it was time to compete against the best team in the league,” Skeeters said. “That’s what they did. They never gave up on each other. The guys earned it.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com