Shooting Star: Hank Luisetti scored big, and changed the game.

Mar 14, 2022 255

BY: Joshua Fried

On January 1, 1938, in a Cleveland gymnasium, Stanford forward Hank Luisetti did what no college basketball player had ever done. The box score from that game, simple and succinct, tells the story. Luisetti’s 23 field goals and four free throws against an overmatched Duquesne team made him the first 50-point scorer in history. Sixty-five years later, Luisetti still holds Stanford’s record for most points in a game.

In those days, entire teams seldom scored 50 points; that night in Cleveland, Duquesne managed only 27 (to Stanford’s 92). The three-point shot had not yet been invented; the shot clock, which encourages faster play and higher scores, was almost 50 years in the future. But armed with basketball’s latest innovation—a one-handed running shot he developed—the 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound Luisetti was a formidable offensive force.

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