One second seemed to last a lifetime at McAlister Field House on Saturday night. Or at least long enough for The Citadel’s basketball team to grab a lead and give it away again.
After DeVontae Wright’s jumper put the Bulldogs up by a point with with less than a second left (0.9, to be exact), UNC Greensboro’s Trevis Simpson slammed home an alley-oop dunk with just two-tenths of a second on the clock.
The Spartans escaped with a 67-66 victory and a 2-0 trip to Charleston, leaving the Bulldogs and 1,026 fans stunned by an ending that had four lead changes in the last 18 seconds, two in the final second.
“An emotional roller coaster,” said Wright, whose jumper gave the Bulldogs a 66-65 lead after they trailed by nine with 7:14 left. “I thought we had the game won.”
And The Citadel (4-13, 1-5 Southern Conference) might have won if not for a costly mistake by junior center Mike Groselle, who led the team with 22 points and nine rebounds, including a bucket for a 64-63 lead with 18 seconds left.
After Wright’s jumper, UNCG attempted a full-court pass that Groselle spiked out of bounds, stopping the clock. Huddled around the replay monitor, the referees decided there were 0.5 seconds left — just enough time for UNCG to pull out a win.
Had Groselle caught the ball, or done almost anything besides what he did, the game would have been over. He knew it immediately. “I meant to just tip it out, but I spiked it. I didn’t know that no one was around me, or I would have caught it.”
In shock, the Bulldogs failed badly on UNCG’s inbounds play. Simpson, a 6-4 leaper who scored 19 points, came off a double screen and soared unchecked to the rim, dunking a perfect lob pass from Drew Parker just before the backboard’s red light lit up. After another huddle, the refs ruled Simpson’s dunk good with 0.2 left, UNCG up, 67-66.
“They set a double screen and no one was protecting the basket,” Groselle said. “We were just like, ‘Wow.’ We didn’t know what hit us.”
It was the Bulldogs’ second defensive breakdown in the final seconds. Up 64-63, they let UNCG guard Derrell Armstrong drive for an easy bucket and a 65-64 lead with eight seconds left.
“A lot of question marks there with how it ended,” said Citadel coach Chuck Driesell.
“But you’ve got to play for 40 minutes. We broke down on that last 0.5 seconds.”
So the Bulldogs lost a game in which they outshot (50 percent to 46) and outrebounded (31-27) the Spartans (4-14, 2-4), who came to town with an 11-game losing streak and left with wins over College of Charleston and The Citadel.
One reason: 15 turnovers that led to 20 UNCG points.
“There a couple of things that we could have done to secure that victory,” Driesell said. “We’ve got to learn from it.”
The Citadel plays at Davidson next Saturday.