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This Day In Sports: Boise’s biggest Big Dance moment

2001: There are probably 100,000 who now say they were there. But there were 11,362 lucky ones in the BSU Pavilion.
Credit: Ted S. Warren/AP Photo
Gonzaga and UNC-Greensboro play at Taco Bell Arena during an NCAA men's tournament first-round game, Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho.

BOISE, Idaho — THIS DAY IN SPORTS…March 15, 2001:

One of Boise’s finest sports day ever, as the Pavilion hosts the closest first round bracket in the history of the NCAA Tournament. First, Georgia State upsets Wisconsin by one…then Maryland holds off George Mason by three…then Georgetown beats Arkansas by two at the buzzer. But the last game was one for March Madness lore. Hampton became only the fourth No. 15 seed to ever upset a No. 2, bringing the house down by rallying for a 58-57 upset of Iowa State and former Idaho coach Larry Eustachy.

At halftime of the Arkansas-Georgetown game, the Hampton band and dance team entered the arena to set up at the east end, smiling and waving at fans. They instantly endeared themselves to the sold-out crowd, which was already in the Pirates’ corner at tipoff against the Cyclones. It only accelerated with Eustachy, a former rival coach, at the helm of ISU. 

The Cyclones, as expected, kept Hampton at arm’s length and built an 11-point second half lead. Iowa State was still up 57-48 with seven minutes left but did not score again. Hampton recorded the last 10 points of the game, scoring the winning bucket with six seconds left. It was probably the most noise ever in what is now ExtraMile Arena for a non-Boise State game.

The lasting image of that night was Hampton coach Steve Merfeld being lifted up by one of his players during the celebration, with his legs kicking into the air. The rest of the weekend would be a whirlwind for Hampton and its fans. They were celebrities around town. 

The band and dance team were invited to perform at a Friday night Idaho Steelheads game. Fans were all about the Pirates in the second round on Saturday, but alas, Georgetown was too much, going up by 20 points at halftime and winning 76-57.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.) 

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