Three-pointer with the sauce: Esaie Maurancy scores the pizza-winning shot at Courtside

With 45 seconds left on the clock, the Regina Cougars had the ball. Cougars guard Nigel Warden sent a bounce pass to Brayden Kuski at the elbow of the key. Kuski pivoted and sent a fadeaway to the hoop. Snatching the rebound, Brian Wallack brought the ball back to UBC’s attacking end.

There was still hope.

The ball moved from player to player outside of the three-point line until it landed in the hands of second-year guard Esaie Maurancy.

“All I could hear was ‘Three, three, three! Shoot the ball, shoot the ball!’ I tried to give it to Triston [Matthews], who’s our best shooter, and he just gave it back to me," said Maurancy. "So I was like, ‘someone has to shoot it.’”

The T-Birds were up 80–66, but the crowd was cheering for something more than a win. As a promotion for the annual Courtside Basketball Festival, Dominos Pizza promised to give free pizza to the student section of the gym if the men’s team scored nine three-pointers that night. The Thunderbirds were at eight.

As the ball left Maurancy’s hands, everyone in the packed crowd stood to their feet. For a moment, as the ball floated through the air, the gym fell silent. Those few seconds felt like minutes. Twenty-nine point nine. Twenty-nine point five. Twenty-eight.

With a swish, the crowd erupted. Fans sitting in areas beside the student section were just as ecstatic. Event staff started passing pizza down the stands as the final buzzer rang at 83–68.

“We’re such an energy team that having the fans here makes such a big difference," said Maurancy. "We enjoyed every second of it. Honestly, if it could be like that every game, it would be so great for us.”

Despite a rough start to the season, the T-Birds have won their past five games, defeating the Cougars 90–65 the following day. The team plays three more doubleheaders before the end of the Canada West regular season and will look to climb the leaderboard from their current spot. The 'Birds are tied with the Alberta Golden Bears at fifth place.

“We just gotta keep building, keep practicing hard and we’ll get to the promised land,” said Maurancy.

When asked if he got any of the free pizza, Maurancy laughed. “No, I did not, but that’s okay. It’s all for you guys.”