UC Riverside men's basketball got inspiration for buzzer-beating upset over Arizona State from Chris Paul

JP Moorman II, after he hit a 70-foot shot at buzzer to win UC Riverside's 66-65 win at Arizona State on Thursday night sent a message to his friend: "This is because you."
Chris Paul is that friend.

45 minutes before their win over the Sun Devils, the Phoenix Suns All-Star met up with UC Riverside. This Big West school had considered eliminating athletics a few years ago in order to save money.

Moorman is a Greensboro native and met Paul while he was playing on his grassroots team, CP3 All-Stars. Paul mentored Moorman in the past but he now considers them to be more like close friends. Paul asked him if he could talk to him when he arrived in Phoenix for Thursday's match.

"It worked out that I met him up when we landed. I asked him about his day and he said he was going [STK Steakhouse] and invited me to join him," Moorman stated. I told him to come to my house in the morning so that he could speak with the team. He replied, "All right, let me know where your staying." The rest is history.

Paul arrived shortly before the pregame shootaround.

He spoke to the players about brotherhood and focus, as well as the tools he used during his Hall of Fame career. The shootaround was energized.

"It was a beautiful 45 minute for a coach," UC-Riverside Mike Magpayo stated. "I sat down, and I enjoyed every minute of it. He spoke about leadership. He spoke about how energy is essential. These guys were captivated when [Moorman] brought Chris Paul into the room. These guys were shocked when I said to them that I wished they looked at me like Chris Paul did when he entered the room.

Moorman would then make the greatest shot in school history hours later.

Moorman must make at least one half-court shot before he can go back to the locker. However, Moorman's 70-footer on Thursday required some maneuvering. He had to avoid a defender and spin near the baseline before launching the shot at an awkward angle.

Moorman stated that he felt the defender and he began taking hard steps to the right. "And I felt it," Moorman added. "I knew that I would be able spin to the left and get a clear look.

This shot and that game seemed unlikely at UC Riverside last year, when the school said it would cut all sports due to financial concerns during the pandemic. The athletics department created a social media campaign asking prominent alumni to share their support via videos. It also developed a savings plan.

The school announced in May that it had saved its athletic program and wouldn't be removing any of them.

Wesley Mallette was the UC Riverside athletic director, who helped to put together the plan for preserving the sports programs at UC Riverside. He was sat behind the team bench when Moorman made the shot.

He was there to support the players during the celebration after the win.

He also said that Moorman's shot sums the unpredictability of UC Riverside last year.

Mallette stated that "When it was taken out of [Moorman]'s] control, if we look at the arc, September 2020 was when nobody knew what was going to occur." As it moved through the air, and we were building our strategy, things became much clearer into the focus. The shot went down, and it made its way into basket. This was our strategy. It passed through the hoop on May 6, 2021. That was when [athletics] announced that it would continue forward. This shot is symbolic of many things that are dear to me."

Moorman stated that after he had texted Paul and thanked him for his help, the NBA All-Star sent some emojis to express his gratitude.

Arizona State paid $85,000 to the Highlanders for their "buy" game, making the win even more sweet.

Moorman stated that he hopes to use the game to create momentum for UC Riverside which is coming off a 14-8 year.

He said, "It's only one game, it is one shot, that's how I see it." It wasn't a normal shot, but it was a game that required many events to reach that point.