The buzzer sounded as Henrique Medeiros' shot was blocked, dashing Columbia College's hopes of finishing its "home run" and advancing in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championships.
The No. 18 Cougars fell 69-67 to No. 16 Lee University in the first round game at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.
The last-second drama was set up after Lee's Stephen McClellan made the second of two free throws with 5 seconds left. Trailing by two, Columbia College decided to execute the "home run," a play used to score last-second points.
"We knew we had to make a good play, and we executed it very well," senior forward Greg Stegeman said.
But Lee's Larriques Cunningham blocked Medeiros' shot from behind, ending the game.
"It was an amazing play, an amazing block on the play," coach Bob Burchard said.
The Cougars practiced the "home run" for such a situation.
"The 'home run' gets the ball down the court as fast as we can for a good shot," Stegeman said.
Lee (23-8) led the entire game, including 39-30 at halftime. But Burchard describes the second half as a "classic comeback." The Cougars (26-6) trailed by as much as 13, but cut the lead to 52-50 halfway through the second half.
"We're two even matched teams, and we came back strong in the second half," Burchard said. "We played out till the end, and I'm very proud of our team."
Burchard was especially pleased that the Cougars didn't get distracted.
"It's easy to get out of character in big games, but we played hard," Burchard said. "We were unselfish, we got behind, and we played from behind."
This was Stegeman's third appearance in the tournament, and he was content with how his time on the basketball court for Columbia College ended.
"This game was very comparable to my whole career," Stegeman said. "We play basketball as a team. Some have great players and leading scorers, but we rely on the entire team."