DAYTON — In North Carolina Central’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2014, the Eagles had the ball with 38 seconds remaining in regulation and chance to make history.
Down 64-63, senior guard Dajuan Graf, who had carried the Eagles for much of their First Four match up against UC Davis, came up short on a 3-point attempt.
It was one of 21 misses from beyond the arc by North Carolina Central in a 67-63 loss on Wednesday night.
Graf had to foul Lawrence White, who knocked down a pair of free throws with 16 seconds remaining to extend a lead UC Davis would not relinquish.
NCCU (25-9), who waltz through the MEAC en route to the program’s third championship under head coach LeVelle Moton, had one of its worst offensive performances of the season, shooting 35.8 percent from the field and an abysmal 19.2 percent from the 3-point line.
Graf paced North Carolina Central with 15 points. Kyle Benton and Patrick Cole added 13 each in the loss.
“I told the guys at the beginning of the season: Your season is going to come down to one possession,” Moton said. “And you gotta capitalize when you get that opportunity. And I just thought we missed a couple of layups at the beginning of the second half that really slowed the momentum. But hats off to them. They executed on the game and won the game.”
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