Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Do You Have a Minute? Longest Games in Basketball History

Barret Browning wonders if anything else is on. (FoxSportsMidwest.com)

Professional baseball is a subject rarely broached on these pages, but the Pittsburgh Pirates' 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night is something to note. The nine-run game lasted 19 innings.

For those unaccustomed to baseball, the standard game ends after nine innings. By more than doubling the length of an average contest, the Pirates-Cardinals held the field for six hours and seven minutes (or 367 minutes, since big numbers are flashier), recording the longest MLB game this season.

Due to shot clocks and timed segments, no basketball game will ever break the six-hour mark, but several multiple-overtime thrillers comprise the list of longest games in basketball history.

John Mantas (saratogian.com)
Game:  Skidmore defeats Southern Vermont, 128-123
Duration:  Seven Overtimes (75 minutes)
Date:  November 23, 2010

With the game deadlocked at 59 after two halves, each team scored more points in extra time (69 and 64, respectively) than they did in regulation. The Skidmore Thoroughbreds hit tying buzzer-beaters to end four different overtimes before clinching the longest game in NCAA Division III history.

There were a combined 145 missed field goal attempts — nearly two per minute played. Only 142 people were on-hand to see the back-and-forth action as John Mantas, a 5'11" guard, led Skidmore in scoring with 27 points.

Doug Schloemer (via The Dagger)
Game:  Cincinnati defeats Bradley, 75-73
Duration: Seven Overtimes
Date:  December 21, 1981

This seasonal showdown is the only seven-overtime match ever played in NCAA Division I. With the Bearcats' starting forwards having fouled out, Bradley didn't consider bench player Doug Schloemer to be a threat. They overplayed their hand and left him open, going with the odds that the Cincinnati reserve wouldn't hit a 15-footer with one second left. Except Schloemer did. Bearcat guard Bobby Austin and Bradley center Donald Reese logged a Divison I-record 73 minutes, and seven others were on the court for at least an hour. Jeff Eisenberg detailed it with grace earlier this summer at The Dagger.

Probably a hoop from BHS vs. Yankton. (via meeshypants)
Game:  Black Hills State defeats Yankton, 80-79
Duration:  Seven Overtimes
Date:  February 18, 1956

It's a good sign there isn't much out there about NCAA Division II's longest game when all the information you can find about it comes from articles about the other two games previously mentioned. An excerpt from the book "South Dakota Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities and Other Offbeat Stuff" mislabels it as an NAIA contest, but does offer some information about the game:

 "Both squads hogged the ball in the five-minute overtimes, hoping to sink shots at the buzzer. The home team [Black Hills State] won on a free throw after time expired in the seventh overtime."

That's most of what is out there about the BHS Yellowjackets' 3+ hour ordeal with the now-nonexistent Yankton College Greyhounds. Another misstep of the book: citing the advent of the three-point line and rules prohibiting stalling as reasons, "that it's unlikely a game will ever run so long again."


Game:  Indianapolis Olympians defeat Rochester Royals, 75-73
Duration:  Six Overtimes
Date:  January 6, 1951

The NBA's longest game clocked in at 78 minutes and predated the shot clock era. The Internet generation would have nothing to do with this snail's pace contest, in which both teams combined for 23 shots over the course of six overtimes — that's an average of 3.83 shots for every five-minute long extra period.

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