Mike King stood alone at the foul line.
The clock showed all zeros and the GW men’s basketball team trailed 18th-ranked Xavier 68-66. King, a freshman playing his third collegiate game after achieving academic eligibility, calmly made two free throws – sending the game into overtime and the Smith Center into a frenzy.
GW (14-3, 3-1 A-10) controlled the overtime and upset the Musketeers (10-4, 2-2 A-10) 78-73 Wednesday in the most thrilling Colonial win in two years.
King almost did not get the chance to be a hero. With 17 seconds remaining in regulation, Xavier guard Lenny Brown fed James Posey underneath the basket for a dunk. The Colonials quickly brought the ball up for a final shot, trailing 68-66.
GW worked the ball inside to senior center Alexander Koul with four seconds remaining. Koul’s turnaround jump shot bounced off the rim. With the seconds ticking away, King grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled as he made a layup at the buzzer.
The officials gathered to discuss the play. After viewing a television replay on press row, they ruled King’s shot did not get off before the buzzer, but that he had been fouled before the game ended. King was sent to the free throw line with no time remaining. He made the two most pressure-packed free throws of his young career while his teammates watched anxiously several feet away.
“I just tried to take my time and relax,” King said of his free throws.
“I knew he was money,” point guard Shawnta Rogers said. “I told Coach to just relax.” Rogers led GW with 25 points and six rebounds.
In the overtime, King continued his heroics. He twice drove the baseline for layups and made two more free throws with 54 seconds remaining in overtime to give GW a 76-73 lead.
Xavier had one final opportunity to tie the game, trailing by three points with 25 seconds left in overtime. However, Brown let the ball slip out of his hands as he went up for a three-point shot. Rogers grabbed the loose ball, was fouled and made two free throws to seal the win, 78-73.
“We should have closed this one out,” Xavier Coach Skip Prosser said. “Give them credit, they made the plays. But we’ll be back.”
After trailing most of the game, Xavier took control of the game midway through the second half. GW forward Yegor Mescheriakov sprained his right ankle jumping for a rebound and limped off the court with 16:32 remaining. Without its leading scorer, and with Koul on the bench with four fouls, GW sagged.
Trailing 45-40 with 12:05 remaining, Xavier went on a 17-4 run during the next six minutes to take a 57-49 lead with 6:26 remaining.
With GW’s offense sputtering, King entered the game and rescued the Colonials. First came a three-pointer from the right wing. King then stole the ball, dribbled down court and hit a jump shot, pulling GW within two points at 59-57. In all, King scored eight straight points and the game was tied 63-63 with 2:44 remaining.
“I was just feeling it right then,” said King, who finished with a career-high 16 points in 15 minutes of playing time. “I felt I could score and Shawnta kept giving me the ball.”
When King did miss, Koul was ready for the rebound. Twice Koul rebounded King misses in the final minutes and put the ball back in the basket. Koul finished with 15 points and made several big shots down the stretch despite playing with four fouls.
Brown led Xavier with 23 points, and Darnell Williams added 20 points. Xavier was plagued by foul trouble. Two starters, Gary Lumpkin and center Torraye Braggs, fouled out.
GW led throughout an energized first half in which Xavier shot 33 percent and turned the ball over 10 times.
“We had open shots in the first half and didn’t make them,” Prosser said. “That allowed Rogers to get out on the break.”