Calverley, former URI basketball star and coach, dies at 79

Updated: October 22, 2003, 6:07 PM ET

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Ernie Calverley, who starred as a basketball player for the University of Rhode Island and later coached the Rams to the NCAA tournament, died Monday after a brief illness. He was 79.

Nicole Gustin, a Rhode Island Hospital spokeswoman, confirmed the death.

Calverley was best known as the player who hit "the shot heard round the world," a buzzer-beating heave from beyond midcourt at Madison Square Garden that tied Rhode Island's first-round game against Bowling Green in the 1946 NIT. Rhode Island went on to win the game in overtime, eventually losing to Kentucky in the championship game.

Calverley led the nation in scoring in 1943-44, averaging 26.7 points as Rhode Island led the country at 78.8 points per game. He was the MVP of the 1946 NIT and was selected to the NIT's 50-year team.

He compiled a 139-114 record as coach of the Rams from 1958-68, taking them to the NCAA tournament in 1961 and 1966. He retired as an associate athletic director at the school in 1985.

Calverley was inducted into the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island and New England sports halls of fame.

Calverley's funeral will be held Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Peace Dale Congregational Church at 261 Columbia St., South Kingstown. His burial will be private.

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