That thought had to be with the Louisiana College Wildcats and their six seniors who were honored before their 92-91 loss to the University of Texas-Tyler Saturday at H. O. West Field House.
One more free throw in a game where LC shot a collective 11-for-20 at the charity stripe could have sent things into overtime and perhaps given the Wildcats the chance to win.
One more basket would have given LC the win and the chance to play their way in to the American Southwest Conference Tournament with a showdown game at Mississippi College Monday night.
Instead, the Wildcats came up one short – both in points and wins - and coupled with MC's 74-68 victory over East Texas Baptist University Saturday, it means LC has just one game left in their 2012-13 season and will not make a second straight trip to the ASC Tournament. LC dropped to 8-12 on the season, 8-10 in conference play.
"It hurts," senior forward Danny Sumner said. "Obviously, the goal is to get to the tournament because once you get to the tournament, anything can happen. It hurts, especially being a senior, to come up short. One more win and we'd be sitting in a lot better shape."
"I told my guys I really appreciated their effort," LC head coach Gene Rushing said. I thought they gave a tremendous effort, we just came up a little bit short."
"The game came down to the free throw line, and that was really the difference in the game. They got more opportunities than we did, and the made more of them than we did."
The Patriots, who improved to 18-7, 13-6 in the ASC, would finish 18-for-31 in free throws. Hitting a number of key free throws down the stretch, Texas-Tyler would lead 91-88 with under 20 seconds left.
LC freshman Kevin Cottonham, who led all scorers with 20 points, came up short from behind the three-point line on his attempt to tie the game. Senior Phillip George just missed saving the basketball before it went out of bounds. The Patriots would then hit one-of-two free throws to make the score 92-88 before George, who finished with seven points, hit a three at the buzzer to make the final a one-point difference.
"It's a tough league, and you have to be ready to play every night, and I believe we were ready to play," Rushing said. "I can't find any fault in our preparation, and I can't find any fault in the way they played."
"We were hungry," Sumner said. "We just wanted to get to the tournament."
Also hurting LC in the game as foul trouble. Senior center Romanaski Williams, who finished with 14 points and two rebounds, was limited to just four minutes of play in the second half after scoring 9 points in the first half. And Cottonham had to take a seat on the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 7:20 left and the game tied at 77 with LC seeming to grab so momentum. He would return for the final four minutes.
Offensively, LC played one of its best games of the season. The Wildcats finished 35-of-68 from the floor for 52-percent and 10-for-24 for 42-percent from three-point range. But, Tyler matched LC's effort with a strong game of their own as the Patriots hit 32-of-58 shots for 55-percent and 10-of-16 three-pointers for 63-percent. The Wildcats also held a slight edge in rebounds, 36-35.
Joining Cottonham and Williams in double figures was senior Derrick Gardner who chipped in 10 points along with four rebounds and five blocks. Texas-Tyler was led by Travis Dykman and Billy Hopson who both had 17 points. Darren Houliston added 15, Tyler Hysell 14 and Tre Potter with 12.
In addition to Williams, George, Sumner and Gardner, playing their final home game for the Wildcats were Edward Atkins and Shaun Johnson. All six were joined by their families in the pre-game ceremony.
Now, after Monday's game at MC, all six will become part of LC Basketball history and make way for a talented crop of freshmen, six of whom played significant minutes this season and nearly got LC into post-season play.
"We'll miss these seniors immensely," Rushing said. "They'll be very hard to replace, not only in their skill level, but for their leadership both on and off the court.
"We'll have a lot of experience coming back out of that freshman class, so we can build on that also."