With Coastal Carolina inbounding the ball in a tie game and only 2.8 seconds left, UNC Asheville's Matt Dickey insists it never once crossed his mind that his team had a chance to win in regulation.
"We were pretty much playing for overtime," the junior guard said by phone Tuesday night. "We just didn't want them to get a good shot at the basket."
Not only did UNC Asheville succeed in preventing Coastal Carolina from getting a clean look, the Bulldogs managed to get one of their own. Jaron Lane tipped the inbound pass, enabling Dickey to steal the ball at mid-court, take one dribble toward the rim and bury a hanging 25-footer as time expired to give UNC Asheville an unlikely 61-58 victory.
"When I saw I was going to be able to get it, I grabbed it and I threw it up as soon as I could because I knew time was running out," Dickey said. "For some reason, as soon as it left my fingers, I knew it was going in."
Dickey's shot silenced a stunned Coastal Carolina crowd and touched off a wild celebration on the UNC Asheville bench.
Even though the first-place Chanticleers (25-4, 15-2) have been beset by injuries and roster attrition the past few weeks, the Bulldogs (14-13, 9-7) were still a heavy underdog on the road. They lost three times to Coastal Carolina last season and dropped this season's first meeting by 21 points.
"Hopefully this will get us over the hump," Dickey said. "Beating the top team, especially on something as exciting as that, hopefully that will get us playing the way we're supposed to going into the conference tournament."
Even though Dickey averages a team-high 15.1 points per game for UNC Asheville, he had never sank a game-winning buzzer beater in either high school or college prior to Tuesday night. As a result, he was still basking in the moment 90 minutes after the final buzzer.
"When I got back on the bus, I had a bunch of texts," he said. "One of my friends from my high school basketball team told me I learned it all from him, which was pretty funny, but most of them just said congratulations."
After sinking one of the season's most improbable game-winning shots, Dickey's earned it.