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Wagner v Howard

Source: Dylan Buell / Getty

March Madness 2024 is officially underway, and even on the first day, we saw a nail-biting finish.

It all began with Wagner—marking the school’s first-ever appearance in the tourney—taking on HBCU Howard.

While Wagner continued to make history as it became its first-ever win, it wasn’t easy. Wagner led most of the night, but with a few minutes left in the second half, March Madness mode was activated.

Howard was down by as much as 17 points in the second half before charting a comeback. And they got so close that with just seconds left, they were down 68 to 71, and with the goal of tying up the game to send it to overtime, they began chucking up three-pointers.

With 10 seconds on the clock, they took a shot from beyond the arc and missed. Then, they rebounded the ball and passed it back out for a long shot, which Jordan Hairston also missed. Then, with the quick pass from beneath the rim, Marcus Dockery took the last attempt and also missed, which secured Wagner’s win.

After the historic win, Wagner’s coach spoke about the squad’s surprising bracket berth, which was even more impressive since a slew of injuries limited the squad to seven active players.

“It’s phenomenal. You dream of this moment, not just as a player but as a coach to compete for a championship. Regardless of what we were going through, we never stopped believing. We never stopped having an expectation of ourselves,” he said. “Having seven players, I would imagine some places might just come in the gym and go, ‘Hey we got seven we just have to go through the motions.’ We never did that. We prepared the right way. We expected to win, even when we did lose and then now to fight in the NCAA Tournament the way we did I think it speaks volumes to the culture.”

The Wagner Seahawks could become the Cinderella of this year’s March Madness, but it won’t be easy—they take on the No.1 ranked North Carolina Tarheels on Wednesday afternoon.

See the reactions to Wagner beating Howard below.