This was the night St. Francis of Brooklyn was to exorcise 76 years of demons and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in its long existence.
The Terriers had won the NEC regular season crown and swept the Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards.
One thousand and thirteen mostly St. Francis fans packed the tiny gym on Remsen Street to watch hometown history. Instead, they witnessed a gutty performance by the team from Pennsylvania, as Robert Morris quieted a once raucous crowd by beating St. Francis, 66-63, and taking the NEC crown along with the automatic bid to the big dance.
Robert Morris outscored the Terriers 37-28 in the second half and withstood a furious rally in the final minutes.
St. Francis had a chance to tie the game, down three with 2.4 seconds left, when junior guard Tyreek Jewell was fouled on a 3-point attempt. However, Jewell missed the first free throw, then the second, and then intentionally missed the third.
After the Colonials’ Lucky Jones missed two free throws of his own, St. Francis had one last chance. But, a three quarters court heave by Lowell Ulmer that looked like it was actually going in, clanged high off the back rim.
“I thought it was going in. After all these years, I thought it was going in.” Terrier coach Glenn Braica said after the game, referring to those 76 years.
Rodney Pryor led the Colonials with 17 points, followed by Elijah Minnie with 14 and Jones with 12.
The Terriers were led by Jewell’s 19 points.
St. Francis played well in spurts during the first half and took a 35-29 lead into the break.
However, the Terriers hurt themselves with missed free throws and turnovers in the second half.
Robert Morris went on a 10-2 run to open the half and controlled the game the rest of the way, until things got tight late.
After the game, coach Andy Toole said he was not thinking about the NCAA Tournament or their potential seed or match-up yet. He did however acknowledged that hearing your team’s name called on Selection Sunday is special.
“It’s one of the best feelings in sports. I’m glad they get to experience it.”
Follow Jamal Murphy on Twitter: @Blacketologist