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Anatomy of a Perfect Play: Every Great Thing About Chennedy Carter’s Game-Winner for Texas A&M

The Aggies wunderkind went off in the second half and capped it all with a gutsy 3. Here are the very best parts of the moment.

AP Images/Ringer illustration

Sunday’s second-round matchup between the fourth-seeded Texas A&M Aggies and fifth-seeded DePaul Blue Demons ended with the Aggies winning by one point, a result made possible by this incredible shot by Chennedy Carter:

Let’s go through the best parts of the play, because there are so many “bests” of the play, because the play was unbelievable, because Chennedy Carter is unbelievable:

Whatever it is that the announcer yells immediately after the made bucket.

It kind of sounds like he’s yelling “CARTER!” but I can’t say for certain, because really what it sounds like is that he was so excited by what he’d just seen that he accidentally mushed together the words “CARTER!” and “GOT IT!” to create “GORT IT!,” which, honestly, I mean, I wouldn’t mind if he just leaned into it and made “GORT IT!” his catchphrase like how Mike Breen has “Bang!” or how Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton Jr. have “Shake and bake.”

The player on DePaul’s bench who dejectedly mouths the word “Fuck” to herself after Chennedy’s shot goes in at about the 0:17 mark of the video.

This (probably) isn’t the best part of the play, but it’s (definitely) my favorite part, mostly because I know exactly what it feels like for things to fall apart in front of you in such a way that the only thing left for you to do is sadly mutter “Fuck” to yourself.

Actually going for the die-on-your-feet 3.

What a monstrous, gigantic, unbelievable flex to go for the 3 in that moment. Consider these things: the Aggies were down only two points; and also there was definitely enough time for Chennedy to get to the rim; and also if she’d have missed the shot the game absolutely would’ve been over and she’d have for sure been picked apart for shooting that shot; and also Chennedy is just a freshman; and also I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE FUCKING PULLED UP FOR THE 3. Do you remember that movie Tin Cup where Kevin Costner plays an about-to-be-washed-up golf player named Roy McAvoy who, after falling in love with a psychologist, turns into a golf stud? He ends up catching fire professionally, and somehow he makes it to the final day of the U.S. Open with a chance to win. And when he gets to the last hole of the tournament, he can either (a) play it safe and hit a shot short right up to a water hazard and then tie for first place and send the thing to overtime, or he can (b) try for this impossible-to-hit shot over the water and just win the Open outright. He looks at the shot for a bit, and then he looks within himself, and then he’s like, “Fuck it. Let’s go,” and lets it rip. He ends up missing the shot (the ball rolls into the water), and he just keeps on trying over and over again, each time his ball landing in the water no matter how defiantly he hits it. When he finally gets to his last ball (which he has to keep out of the water or be disqualified from the tournament), he finally nails the shot. Everyone goes nuts, and so the moral of the moment is one of those “It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees”–type situations. Chennedy’s shot was kind of like Roy’s first one—only she made hers. Chennedy Carter cares not for your moral victories.

The sound of the arena right before the shot goes in (dead quiet, because everyone is taking the biggest breath possible) and then right after it goes in (HUGE AND ENORMOUSLY LOUD BECAUSE EVERYONE IS TRYING TO SCREAM THEIR INTESTINES UP OUT OF THEIR MOUTHS).

Just some fun things to point out: (1) This was a home game for A&M, and so almost everyone there was rooting for the Aggies, which is why it sounds like someone turned the volume up on the universe when Chennedy scores. (2) The Aggies were down 17 points in the second half, making this the fourth-biggest comeback in tournament history. (3) During the 2017 tournament, the Aggies actually had a game where they came back from being down 21. (4) Chennedy scored just five points in the first half. SHE HAD 32 IN THE SECOND HALF. (5) Chennedy scored the final nine points for the Aggies, and I’m always a big fan of those moments when someone goes into full-on Fuck Your Feelings mode and takes a game over. (6) It was the first lead of the game for the Aggies since the first bucket of the game made it 2-0. (7) Chennedy shot the ball 30 times during the game, which is probably my favorite stat out of all the game stats, really, because it takes a mountain range’s worth of courage and confidence to put up 23 shots in a game and then go, “You know what I should do? I should shoot it seven more times.”

The discard of the first defender with the crossover-in-transition move.

If you rewatch the play, you’ll notice that right before the half-court line, a defender reaches in and tries to poke the ball away from Chennedy. That’s Kelly Campbell. She was actually the one who took the shot immediately before Chennedy’s 3. It was a late-in-the-clock desperation jumper that banged away off the back of the rim and backboard. Had it gone in, DePaul would’ve been up four with about 12 seconds left and Texas A&M all but dead. Instead, there was the miss, and then there was disaster.

The discard of the second defender.

This is, I would argue, the second-best part of the play. Chennedy, knowing full well that she was going to shoot the 3 as soon as she got the chance, also knew that she needed to shake free some space for herself (she’s only 5-foot-7). As such, she opted to go with the very devastating bap-bap dribble move where a dribbler puts the ball between his or her legs two times in rapid-fire succession. The point of the move is that it makes the defender think you’re going toward wherever you first push the ball, only to cut back the other way. If it works, the defender is in a terrible position, which is exactly what happened here. The defender (I think it was Amarah Coleman, but it’s kind of hard to tell on the replay) leaned juuuuuust enough to her left that Chennedy was able to exploit it. She cut back to Coleman’s right, then hopped one step further to her right for good measure, then pulled up. All Coleman could do was put her hand up in hopes of distracting Chennedy. It did not. I hope Coleman’s made her peace with the basketball gods because her spirit belongs to them now.

(A sidebar: If it was Amarah Coleman who Chennedy outmaneuvered, then that’s heartbreaking. Coleman was a senior this season, meaning on the final basketball play of her college career she got kicked square in the jaw by the cosmos. I’m hoping for one of those Hakeem Olajuwon twists, though, where he lost his final college game—a championship contest—but went on to win a couple of rings in the pros.)

The post-shot celebration.

(The first-best part of the play.) It’s perfect, and for so many reasons. It’s perfect because oftentimes post-shot celebrations feel canned or rehearsed, but this one very much felt like the physical manifestation of exactly what it felt like watching the play happen, which is to say totally bonkers and entirely irrepressible. It’s perfect because she didn’t even bother to see if the other team was going to call a timeout after the shot went in (there were still over three seconds left!), she just started celebrating immediately. (It’s like how Lorraine Broughton doesn’t bother to kick the carcasses of any of the guys in the hotel-room scene of Atomic Blonde after she puts bullets in all their foreheads. She knew they were already dead, same as Chennedy did.) It’s perfect because it lasted for several seconds, and also it covered many feet in distance, and you can always measure how great a celebration is by how long it lasts and how much distance is covered. It’s perfect because it is so grand and violent that the vibrations from when Chennedy stomps her foot onto the court are of such magnitude that they knock the teammate nearest to her up into the air. And it’s perfect because even after the bigness of the first part of the celebration, she finishes it by doing the I’m Walking Away Very Sternly and Angrily thing that’s always great to watch. The whole celebration was perfect. The whole play was perfect.