Less than three minutes of action separated the Colgate men's basketball team from the Patriot League championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Alas, it would never get there.
American University took over in the homestretch of last Friday's championship game at Bender Arena in Washington, D.C., and beat the Raiders, 52-46.
The Eagles earned its first-ever NCAA berth and, in the process, denied Colgate its first tournament visit in 12 years.
Having beaten Lafayette and Bucknell in the Patriot League tournament, Colgate, as the no. 3 seed, now took aim at American, the league's regular-season champion.
And after a long, tense battle where every possession was important, the Raiders sneaked in front 46-45 when Kyle Roemer, with a defender in his face, drained a 3-pointer. It would prove to be Colgate's last points of the night.
American went back in front seconds later on a Jordan Nichols lay-up, and a long Colgate possession followed. Twice, as the clock ticked under a minute to play, Daniel Waddy had shots to put the Raiders ahead, but Nichols blocked one and the other slid off the rim.
Forced to foul, Colgate sent American's Brian Gilmore to the line with 31 seconds left. Gilmore made both free throws, and Derrick Mercer added more free throws with 18.9 seconds to play to seal the Eagles' victory.
Right from the start, the game was a tight affair. Neither side would lead by more than seven points, and there would be eight ties and 12 lead changes before it was over.
Colgate battled through early nerves, picking up just six points in the game's first 11 minutes, but it broke through in the late stages of the first half, outscoring American 12-4 at one point to inch into an 18-17 lead. The Eagles responded well and took a 27-24 advantage to the break.