With 4.7 seconds remaining and a three-point deficit, Richmond may have thought they had the opening round of Atlantic 10 tournament play in the bag against Charlotte. The opposite happened.
Clearly the Charlotte 49ers have no other means to reach the NCAA tournament without winning the A-10 Conference tournament, so the season seemed to be all but over. Because of three technical fouls distributed among the Spiders still on the floor, Charlotte escaped the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with a 69-63 victory over Richmond.
Charlotte wasn’t only the product of luck in the final five seconds of play, but forced the fortunate string of events with a late-game run which erased the 49ers’ 10-point deficit.
Pierria Henry was the hero of the night for Charlotte with a career-high 28 points. Henry missed a possible tying 3-pointer, but went to the line with the opportunity to pull Charlotte within one point. After his first free throw, Richmond’s Derrick Williams threw Charlotte forward Willie Clayton to the floor. Henry made his final free throw, then sunk both of the technical foul free throws to give the 49ers a 64-63 lead, and the ball.
In all my years as a basketball fan I have never seen a team give away their chance of winning like Richmond did against Charlotte Thursday night. To commit a technical foul, with your opponent on the line, with only a three-point lead, in the final five seconds of play is absolutely inexplicable. Seeing as very few people had any rooting interest in this game, the match-up can be described with one word: awesome.
Back to the game. Henry was inbounded the ball at mid court, and threw up a wild shot in anticipation of a foul, which was called. Henry was given two shots for the foul, while Richmond head coach Chris Mooney was called for two technical fouls and was ejected.
Henry then shot seven straight free throws. Yes, seven.
The No. 9 seeded 49ers (21-10) advance to the quarterfinal game on Friday against top seed and No. 16 nationally ranked St. Louis.