The Shot Heard ‘Round the World:
Notre Dame Ends UCLA’s 88-Game Streak
On January 23, 1971, 9th ranked Notre Dame upset the visiting defending champions and #1 ranked UCLA 89-82 behind 46 points from the Naismith Player of the Year Austin Carr. It would be UCLA’s only loss of the season.
UCLA would not face a ranked Notre Dame until three years later, when they visited the #2 ranked Fighting Irish on January 19, 1974. In between they had won 88 consecutive games and three NCAA Championships.
In their last visit to Notre Dame they won easily 82-63 for Win #61 , breaking the University of San Francisco’s 60-game streak (compiled during its Bill Russell era).
UCLA was led by All-Americans Bill Walton (C) and Jamal Wilkes (F), while Notre Dame featured All-American John Shumate (F) and freshman sensation Adrian Dantley (F). (Walton had another streak, he had won 143 straight games since his high school days.)
Win #89 was in reach, when UCLA took a 70-59 lead with 3:34 remaining. Then the Irish staged a miraculous comeback, going on a 12-0 run punctuated by Dwight Clay’s “Shot Heard Round the World” that put Notre Dame up 71-70 with 29 seconds left. UCLA had a chance to retake the lead, but Bill Walton’s turnaround jumper would not fall.
Notre Dame’s win is considered one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history.
Notre Dame would play the next Saturday at UCLA. After the win in South Bend, Irish Coach Digger Phelphs joked to UCLA Coach John Wooden, “You don’t mind if we don’t show up next week, do you, John?” Wooden smiled and answered, “You better.”
Notre Dame made the trip and UCLA recliamed the #1 ranking with a 94-75 win at Pauley Pavilion. In February they would experience their first consecutive losses since 1966 losing on the road to Oregon and Oregon State, before finishing the regular season 23-3 and ranked #2.
They would eventually face #1 North Carolina State in the NCAA Semifinals in Greensboro, North Carolina. While the Bruins had beaten the Wolfpack 84-66 earlier in the season in St. Louis, North Carolina State would win a classic double-overtime victory 80-77.
The loss ended UCLA’s 7-year reign as National Champions. After that, no team would repeat as National Champs until Florida in 2006 and 2007.
With the win, Notre Dame jumped to #1 in the rankings only three weeks after its football team had finished #1 by beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Notre Dame would finish the regular season 23-2, but would lose to Michigan in the Mideast Regional Semifinals.
The UCLA win was a big recruiting weekend for Irish football program. Among the future Irish players on official visits were quarterback Joe Montana and tight end Ken MacAfee, later to become leaders of Notre Dame’s 1977 national championship football team
UCLA Streak By the Numbers
20 – Number of Ranked Teams Beaten
11 – Number of Top 10 Teams Beaten
6 – Most Wins against a single team (Pac-8 Teams)
23.5 – Average Margin of Victory
2 – Games Won By a Point (Oregon – 1971, Maryland – 1973)
5 – Games Won By a Basket or Less
16 – Games Won By Under 10 Points
9 – Games Won By 40-Points or More
64 – Largest Margin of Victory (vs. Texas A&M 117-63 – 1971)