The ball rolled around the surface of the rim, dangled above the twine and finally dropped through.
The horn had sounded, the Municipal Auditorium crowd erupted, but did a layup after a frantic dash upcourt by Mid-America Christian (Okla.) University’s Malcolm Mann beat the buzzer?
An NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship was riding on the call.
After an agonizing few seconds, the referees signaled that it counted. By about a 0.1 of a second. The Evangels mobbed the court and the Georgetown (Ky.) College Tigers slumped to the floor.
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Mid-America Christian (28-9), in just its second trip to the NAIA Tournament, had shocked Georgetown 100-99 in overtime for the title.
Not that Mann was surprised by the call.
“I knew I had it in time,” said Mann, a 6-3 junior. “I went with my instincts. I never made a shot like that. I had missed a free throw, let my team down and had to do something for them.”
Indeed, Mann had made one of two free throws with 12.9 seconds left in overtime, making it 98-96 but giving Georgetown an opening.
Georgetown (32-4), which had not lost a game since Feb. 6, appeared to seize its second title in four years when backup guard Trent Gilbert, a Scott County grad, drilled a three-pointer from the corner with 4 seconds left, making it 99-98.
But that’s when Mann went on his mad dash upcourt.
“If I didn’t see anyone open with 2 seconds, I was going to take it myself,” he said. “I saw 2 seconds on the clock, lost the ball for a little bit, but for the grace of God it went in.”
An emotional Georgetown Coach Chris Briggs fought back tears when recounting the finish.
“I knew when Trent put it up, it was going to go in,” Briggs said of Gilbert’s only basket of the game. “We probably celebrated a little too heavy right there. I tried to get our guys focused and back in the huddle and back on the court.
“I wanted it for these guys, and they wanted it but we couldn’t get it done. They made the plays down the stretch, and we didn’t.”
Georgetown had previously brought home championships in 2013 and 1998.