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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

The shot heard ‘round the school

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Pesce will receive his textbooks at the game against Duquesne University. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

During the second half intermission in the St. Joe’s women’s basketball game against La Salle University, Steven Pesce ’23 heard his friend cheering and celebrating for him as he drained a half court shot to win free textbooks for the semester. 

Or so he thought. 

As Pesce celebrated and the crowd roared, he was delivered unwelcome news by the competition facilitator.

“He said my foot was on the line and I had to take another shot,” Pesce said.

Because Pesce was not behind the half court line when he launched the shot, his win didn’t count. Per the rules of the competition, he still had two more attempts to earn the textbooks. 

“I didn’t even want to take another shot, I was just happy I made the first one,” Pesce said. “As I went to take the second and third shots, the whole crowd started booing and obviously I was laughing too. I wasn’t really upset about the books.”

SJU Athletics holds the “Bookstore Halfcourt Shot” promotion in partnership with Barnes and Nobel during men’s and women’s basketball games, according to a statement issued by the Department of Athletics to The Hawk. 

According to the statement, “the rules of the promotion, as with all of our sponsored on-court promotions, are dictated by the partner, and in this case, they require the contestant to remain behind the halfcourt line.”  

Pesce said he thinks it’s funny how much traction the incident received. David Sakowski ’22 created a change.org petition for Pesce that recieved over 100 signatures. A video of the shot, recorded by Michael Greco ’23, a good friend of Pesce’s, circulated around social media.

“I was sitting in class and my phone was going off,” Pesce said. “I saw that Barstool Joe’s Instagram account posted [the video]. I think a beer company commented on it, and that was funny.”

That company, Philadelphia-based brewery Kenwood Original, commented “Should we just give him beer instead???” Other comments on the post, however, were more critical in nature. Former St. Joe’s men’s basketball guard Ryan Daly tagged the university’s Instagram account and urged that Pesce receive his textbooks. 

According to Greco, the situation received widespread attention because it goes against the idea that a university should want to do nice gestures for its students.

“College institutions throw together a decent amount of money,” Greco said. “You want him to hit the shot to have the books. I think to say his foot was on the line was a little weak.”

Greco analogized the situation to a scene in the 2008 film “Semi-Pro” starring Will Ferrell, where Ferrell’s character promised a man $10,000 if he made a near full court shot. But, after the man made the shot, the team revealed they did not have the funds. Regardless of whether Pesce received the books, Greco said that the shot makes for a memorable story. 

“At the end of the day, there’s bigger and worse things to be worried about,” Greco said.

Pesce agrees. 

“I’m honestly more upset that I had to make the second and third shot because it ruined my perfect shooting status,” Pesce said. “I was shooting 100%.”

The story, however, does not end there. On Jan. 20, Pesce received an email from St. Joe’s Director of Marketing & Fan Experience Emily Jakimowicz. 

All the attention has worked: Pesce is going to receive the textbooks.

“Barnes and Noble graciously agreed to award the prize anyway,” a spokesperson from the Department of Athletics wrote in an email to The Hawk. “We thank them for their partnership and appreciate their generosity.” 

Not only that, but Pesce will also get special on-court recognition for his halfcourt shot during the men’s basketball game vs. Duquesne University on Jan. 26. 

“I appreciate the books and everything,” Pesce said. “I’m just really happy.”

Revision: The initial version of this story did not include the full statement from SJU Athletics. The story was revised to include the rules and stipulations of the “Bookstore Halfcourt Shot” included in the statement. 

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