FRANKFORT — Josh Phillips was to be one of the shooters on Cumberlands' last possession of the Mid-South Conference title game.
The plan, according to Don Butcher, a master designer and coach, was for point guard Terrance Asmond to try to create a scoring play for himself in the 57-57 tie. Player of the Year Luke Fitzgerald was the second option. Phillips was third.
"I wanted the ball because I knew I'd make it," Phillips, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, said after his shot with 1.4 seconds on the clock defeated Georgetown 60-57 Sunday at Frankfort Civic Center. "When the ball left my hand, I knew it was going in."
Georgetown was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.
The 12th-ranked Patriots (26-6) claimed the automatic bid to the NAIA Tournament from No. 4 Georgetown, the regular-season champ (27-4) and winner of their two regular-season games. The tournament is March 18 to 24 in Kansas City, Mo.
"I'd done it before in high school but not on this stage," said Phillips, who was wearing the net and holding the trophy after scoring 13 points, including three treys.
"I knew somebody would hit the shot, but I didn't know who," Fitzgerald said. "We rely on each other. We all have our roles."
Georgetown hoped its role would be to win another MSC tournament and head to Kansas City on a roll.
A first-half statistic concerned Coach Happy Osborne, however.
His Tigers outshot the Patriots by 30 percentage points, yet they led by only six points. Fitzgerald was limited to one free throw.
"I could feel (the Patriots) coming," Osborne said. "We relaxed a little, and it hurt us."
"It was a strange half," Butcher said of the second half.
Georgetown scored one field goal in the first minute. Its second came with 10:15 left in the game. The Tigers finished with six for the half. The last came with 3:49 left.
Georgetown was scoreless for seven minutes after its first bucket. Its six-point lead disappeared on a 7-0 run that included Phillips' first trey after the break.
Cumberlands had its own scoreless spell of 5½ minutes and lost a six-point lead. Georgetown regained the advantage with nine minutes left and held it until Fitzgerald made a free throw with 1:01 left.
Fitzgerald finished with 16 points. He was 3-for-10 from the field but made 10 of 12 free throws to go with a game-high eight rebounds.
"I was a little frustrated (in the first half), but I didn't let it get to me," Fitzgerald said. "At halftime I said, 'I'll be there when you need me.' I knew I'd step it up."
Vic Moses of Georgetown led all scorers with 19 points.
The Tigers reached their goal of holding an opponent under 39 percent from the field, but it wasn't enough.