Skip to main content
Publish date:

"We end in tears... because we invested so much in each other."

March Madness delivers the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in buckets each year, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more devastating loss that UCF's 77-76 defeat to No. 1 overall seed Duke. It wasn't just that UCF lost by one point, it's that the Knights had a 3-point lead inside the final 20 seconds, then blew it by allowing a single possession that saw two offensive rebounds turn into four points.

But it didn't even end there, because UCF had two shots at a buzzer-beating win, one of them from point-blank range.

The agony doesn't even end there. UCF is coached by Johnny Dawkins, who played point guard for Duke from 1982-86, piloted Coach K to his first of 12 Final Fours as a senior, then returned as an assistant from 1998-09, where he helped Coach K reach three more Final Fours and win the national championship in 2001. And the player who missed the final tip-in? Aubrey Dawkins, Johnny's son. The younger Dawkins scored 32 points and hit 12 of his 17 shots... until that final tip-in rolled around and off the rim.

So, yeah, not just agonizing but all-time agonizing.

After the game, Dawkins pieced himself back together to deliver this heartfelt final speech to the 2018-19 UCF basketball team.

"We always said it's going to end (one of) two ways when you invest like we invest: we're going to end celebrating or we're going to end crying," he said. "We end in tears. That's because we invested so much in each other.

"We've got a lot of good memories, man. We accomplished a lot of amazing things this year. I know that doesn't do anything for us right now, but at some point in time it will."

While none of them were in the position to hear it Sunday night, being part of this team -- and that game -- will make them better people down the road. And they've now got a story to tell their grandkids one day, about the time they almost beat Zion.