Following a memorable season for him and the Stephen F. Austin (SFA) Lumberjacks men’s basketball team, Bahamian Nathan Bain experienced another special moment last week, when his No. 23 jersey and shoes from the Duke game were sent to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Lumberjacks pulled off the biggest upset in program history, shocking the previously unbeaten No. 1 nationally ranked Duke Blue Devils, 85-83, in overtime on November 26, 2019. Bain hit a clutch winning shot in that game, driving almost the length of the court for a layup as time expired.
Feeding off that improbable win, the Lumberjacks went on to have one of their best regular seasons in program history, finishing with a 28-3 win-loss record, 19-1 Southland Conference and a nationally number 26 ranking. They were poised to win the Southland Conference title as the top seed, after winning 15 in a row and 21 out of 22, to end the regular season, and advance to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament for just the sixth time in program history. However, COVID-19 had other plans, forcing the cancelation of the tournament, and sporting events on the whole, around the globe.
It could be argued that the Duke win on Duke’s home court inside Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina, jump-started the Lumberjacks’ season – particularly after coming off a tough road loss at Rutgers. It was voted as the game of the year for Stephen F. Austin, given the significance of the win for the program, the way in which it was done, the fact that it came on the road in a hostile environment and the team that was defeated.
It was one of the biggest upsets in NCAA history, creating a buzz across the country with numerous mentions on ESPN and articles everywhere. It was certainly one of the more memorable games of the year in all of college basketball. The Lumberjacks were a 27-point underdog, but thanks to Bain’s heroics, they went on to hand Duke their first loss at home to an unranked, non-conference opponent in almost 20 years – a streak of 150 games.
“The Hall of Fame reached out because of the underdog role and comeback and all those type of things that the game signified, so they could note such a classic comeback,” said SFA Head Coach Kyle Keller. “As it turned out, Nate (Nathan Bain) was such a great character for the story with everything that was going on at home. It is like the gift that keeps on giving. Hopefully, that game will live forever. It is a memorable thing.”
Bain had 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting and added five rebounds and three steals against Duke, and went on to average 5.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in his final season at Stephen F. Austin. He will always be remembered for that game-winning shot, and an emotional post-game interview afterwards, in the wake of the destruction caused to his hometown of Freeport, Grand Bahama, from Hurricane Dorian. That triggered an overnight resurgence on his GoFundMe page. In just a few days, Bain’s account skyrocketed from a couple thousands dollars to over $150,000 – showing the true power of heroics in sports and sentimental value.
Bain started 25 of the 28 games he played in for the Lumberjacks this past season, and was a staple in the middle of his team’s rotation that finished eighth in the country in offense and was solid defensively as well.
Bain was singled out and recognized after his game-winning shot at Duke, was honored again on “Senior Night” and now he’s experiencing one of the ultimate highlights of his season with his jersey and tennis shoes being sent to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts – the pinnacle of success and accomplishment for contributions to the sport of basketball.
With COVID-19 impacting sporting activities worldwide and changing life as we knew it, it’s good to receive some positive news as it relates to sports. Bain’s jersey and shoes being sent to Springfield certainly serves as a beacon of hope for aspiring young Bahamian basketball players.
There was probably no bigger shot in basketball for The Bahamas in all of 2019 than Bain’s game-winning shot at Duke, and now, it is being featured in arguably the most prestigious basketball museum in the world.