Longest NCAA Basketball Game Ran to 7 Overtimes

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A reserve forward had the last laugh in the longest NCAA Division I basketball game ever played.

Cincinnati’s Doug Schloemer nailed a twisting 15-foot jumper with 3 seconds remaining in the seventh overtime, and his Bearcats beat the Bradley Braves 75-73 on December 21, 1981 on Bradley’s home floor, in Peoria, Ill.

Schoemer, in the game because his team’s two starting forwards had fouled out, had also scored with 55 seconds remaining in the sixth overtime to tie the game at 73. He finished the night having scored 6 points.

The teams ended tied at 61 at the end of regulation. Bradley was ahead 61-57 with just 45 seconds to play, but Cincinnati rallied to tie it as time ran out.

And it was after those two 20-minute halves that the game began to drag. Overtime lasted just 5 minutes, yet the teams took their time. The shot clock, such a feature of collegiate basketball in later times, was not part of the game in 1981, and so both teams made it a habit in overtime to hang onto the ball as long as they could. In fact, in the third overtime, neither team got off a shot.

As the minutes ticked away, the tie scores continued. Only once (in the fifth overtime period) was either team was able to take more than a two-point lead in any overtime period. Bradley led by four, but Cincinnati answered with four straight, and the score remained tied as the buzzer sounded (again).

The scores at the end of each overtime period were 63-63 (1st), 65-65, 65-65, 67-67, 71-71, and 73-73.

Bradley had one shot to tie it again, but a desperation heave at the buzzer clanked off the back of the rim. It was the fifth overtime period of the seven in which they had missed last-second shots.

The total clock time of the game was 75 minutes. Bradley center Donald Reese and Cincinnati guard Bobby Austin played all but 2 of those minutes. Seven other players played more than 60 minutes.

Leading scorers were Bradley’s David Thirdkill (25) and Mitchell Anderson (20) and Cincinnati’s Bobby Austin and Dwight Jones (both 20).

The five Bearcats on the court at the end of the game were the only ones left eligible on the team. Cincinnati’s other seven players had fouled out. Bradley was in a similar situation, having just six eligible players for the seventh overtime period.

The game was Bradley’s second overtime loss in a row. Their 58-56 loss to Murray State a few days before lasted just one overtime period, however.

The Bradley-Cincinnati game broke the record of six overtimes, shared by Niagara-Siena (1953), Minnesota-Purdue (1955), and Connecticut-Syracuse (2009).

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