Francis X. "Frank" Corcoran Sr., 88, made Canisius College basketball history with winning shot

[Buffalo News] Francis X. "Frank" Corcoran Sr., 88, made Canisius College basketball history with winning shot

March 14, 1934 – Oct. 15, 2022

Francis X. "Frank" Corcoran Sr., who sank the most famous shot in Canisius College basketball history, died Oct. 15 under hospice care in Wilmington, N.C. He was 88.

In the 1956 NCAA men's basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden, Mr. Corcoran scored the winning basket to upset North Carolina State, ranked second in the nation, by a single point in the first round.

His successful 18-foot jump shot with six seconds left, his only field goal of the night, ended a game which had gone into four overtime periods, the longest-ever NCAA men's tournament game. The shot was recognized later by USA Today in a roundup of most famous NCAA basketball games by decade.

Canisius beat Dartmouth in the next round to become one of the final eight teams, but then lost to Temple.

Mr. Corcoran was an unexpected hero. He had been cut from his high school basketball team in his native Philadelphia and only began to shine in the city's recreational leagues after he had growth spurt and stood 6-foot-1.

Even so, he came from a working class Irish family and had no plans to attend college. Most of the Philadelphia-area schools passed on him, but Canisius sought him out and offered him a basketball scholarship.

He was not a starter, but rather the "sixth man" on a stellar 1955-56 Golden Griffin team that had a 17-6 record, with victories over Syracuse, Villanova, Boston College and Fordham. It featured John McCarthy, who went on to play with a championship Boston Celtics team and coach the Buffalo Braves, and future Congressman Henry Nowak.

Mr. Corcoran returned to Philadelphia after college and became a salesman for Sealtest Dairy. Then Canisius teammate Jim McCarthy convinced him to go to Wall Street.

He joined R.W. Pressprich and Co. in 1962 and went in the early 1970s to Merrill Lynch, where Jim McCarthy was a senior vice president. Working in institutional equity sales, he retired after 20 years and moved from Upper Montclair, N.J., to Pinehurst, N.C., in 1994.

An accomplished golfer, he was a member of the Pinehurst Resort, site of U.S. Open tournaments. He also was active in Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pinehurst, participating in Eucharistic Adoration every week.

He visited Buffalo regularly, was active as a fundraiser for Canisius and took part in reunions of the 1955-56 basketball team, which has been enshrined in the college's Sports Hall of Fame.

He met his wife, the former Nan O'Connor, a stewardess for American Airlines, at a friend's wedding. They were married in 1959.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two daughters, Eileen O'Connell and Kathleen Doherty; three sons, Francis X. Jr., Patrick and Daniel; and 16 grandchildren.

Services will be private.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy. Dale Anderson


Dale Anderson has been a Buffalo News staff reporter since 1968. He was the chief rock and pop writer for 20 years and helped establish the weekend entertainment magazine Gusto.

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Source: Buffalo News