The 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament saw a return to full arenas for the first time since 2019, which has brought a familiar and welcome sense of atmosphere to the games that were missing a year ago.
However, there are benefits to having full arenas and all the pageantry of college basketball on the sidelines and in the stands beyond just atmosphere, as we learned in St. Mary’s-Indiana on Thursday night. After an errant shot, the basketball got stuck on top of the backboard and was out of reach of anyone and anything they had courtside, with an official even trying and failing to stand on a chair with the floor mop to get it.
As the delay wore on, Indiana’s cheerleading squad stepped up to the plate, putting one cheerleader on another’s shoulders to walk over to the backboard before he lifted her up to snatch the ball off the top to raucous applause (and an all-time call from Andrew Catalon on the call for TBS).
"THE CHEERLEADER SAVES THE DAY!"
When hope was lost, a hero emerged. pic.twitter.com/8fjEydjr2j
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 18, 2022
It really is an incredible moment in a game that had gotten away from the Hoosiers and brought a little life to the arena in a surprising way. Unfortunately for Indiana, this very well may end up as their top highlight from the game, but kudos to those cheerleaders for some quick thinking and quality fundamentals on the lift to pluck that ball off the top of the backboard.