VIDEO: BYU player sinks game-winner after learning of dad's cancer

By Matt Norlander | Staff Writer

Touching, bittersweet story to pass along to you here.

I mean, this is the heart and symbolic nature of how sports can ease or help people in tough times. They're just games, but the games can be catalysts to better, happier things in the bigger realm, even if temporarily.

BYU's Craig Cusick opportunistically sank the shot that put the Cougars past a good Utah State team Tuesday night. It's arguably as powerful a buzzer-beater as we'll see all season when you realize the kid was playing with a heavy heart, having just been dealt a blow that most of you reading this either know the feeling, or know someone who does. Cusick's father has cancer. Cusick didn't know until Tuesday.

And then, just hours later, he does this. As you can see, he wasn't expected or asked to hit the game-winner. Right place, right time. Incredible story, even if, as you'd expect, Cusick wasn't exactly basking.

Craig Cusick was more emotional than usual in the postgame news conference, but did not mention his father's health. Randy Cusick collapsed last Sunday, and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors found a cancerous tumor on Tuesday afternoon.


Here's how Cusick described the shot:

"Hard to explain. As a player, you couldn't dream it any better. I was just fortunate. Coach called a great play. I saw that when Matt shot it that there was a chance that it was going to be a little bit short. I ran where I thought it was going to come off, and I was fortunate.the ball came to me. It's great that I made the shot, but I have to give credit to my teammates who pulled us through the rest of the way."

Health scares framed this game, bookended by an incident two months earlier and the Cusick family news Tuesday. The only reason Utah State and BYU were playing an out-of-conference game so late into the season was due to a postponement. The game was scheduled for early December, but after USU's Danny Berger collapsed in practice and stopped breathing the day before the game, it had to be moved.

Then, this happens. And not only was the shot a good story, it was also pretty critical for a 20-8 BYU team that's on thin ice in regard to its at-large chances. This was season-saving in the short term.

BYU's no stranger to health scares, either. Its coach, Dave Rose, beat pancreatic cancer a few years ago. Cancer of the pancreas kills 95 percent of those diagnosed within five years of its discovery. And Rose beat it. I'm continually amazed by his success story and how he handled everything. Odds-defying, to say the least.

Let's hope similar fortune can come to Cusick's father as the BYU program takes on another emotional battle away from the floor.

(H/T, The Dagger)

For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe to the thrice-a-week podcast on iTunes. You can follow Matt Norlander on Twitter here: @MattNorlander.

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