RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) A Radford University freshman's game-winning shot secured the men's basketball team's spot in the NCAA tournament. The buzzer-beater play is still hard for the student to process 24 hours after the win against Liberty University.
This is the first time since 2009 that the men's basketball team has made it to the NCAA tournament. Many of the players were barely double digits in age then and now they're still in shock they've made it this far.
"It's still kind of unbelievable to me that I made the shot," said Carlik Jones, a freshman basketball player.
It was one last second play that sent Radford University fans wild. The game was tied up at 52. Carlik Jones knocked in the game-winning three-pointer, beating Liberty University, becoming Big South Champions, and earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
"I was just speechless. All I could do was run. I turned around and I could just see my whole team chasing me and you could see the crowd erupting, jumping up, cheering. It was just, it was a great feeling to have," Jones said.
His coach, who's making his third trip to the tournament, says this could be a sign of more major successes and surprises to come.
"I don't think he could have had a much better freshman year but hopefully he's hungry. I know he's a hard worker. Hopefully he's hungry to continue to get better," said Mike Jones, Radford University men's basketball head coach.
Other players like Ed Polite, Jr., who helped keep the score close in the final minutes, haven't caught up with the congratulatory messages from friends and family.
"Yeah, a lot. I still haven't seen them all," Polite, Jr. said. "My father played basketball, he never experienced stuff like this so it's amazing to be able to be a part of this."
This is Spring Break week at Radford University. Students are celebrating the win elsewhere but many have made their pride known on social media, including ESPN reporter and Radford grad Marty Smith.
Radford will find out Sunday who the team will face off against in the first round of the tournament.
The university is already selling Big South Championship shirts to help students remember this big win.