When he was rolling around on the court midway through the fourth quarter, grabbing his leg in agony, the last thing on Tayquan Mayo's mind was end-game ecstasy.
"That's the second time I've gotten a charley horse this season. It really hurts. I didn't know if they'd let me back in," said Mayo, a senior guard for Longwood.
After sitting for a couple of minutes while the knot in his calf was massaged and he was cleared to return, Mayo sank a midrange jumper from the right baseline with 27.6 seconds left that put Longwood ahead for good in a 67-64 victory over host Floyd Thursday in a thrilling battle for first place in League I.
"He was fighting cramps out there and was a little dehydrated," Longwood coach Pierce Hayes said of Mayo, who scored 18 points. "We were glad he could go back in. We like his heart and his tenacity. He wants to take that shot."
For much of the second half, it didn't look as if Longwood (6-1) would need any late-game heroics. The Lions led 48-37 with 1:11 left in the third quarter after a three-pointer by Blake Evans (19 points)
But Floyd (5-1), which suffered its first loss of the season, wasn't going quietly before a noisy, packed house. Anthony White, who was spectacular again with 27 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks, four steals and four assists, sparked a 14-4 run that brought the Colonials to within 52-51 with 5:58 remaining.
Shabazz Thompkins (19 points) rattled in a three from the wing to make it 58-56 before Longwood scored five straight points to take a 63-56 lead with 2:51 to play.
"I thought our pressure defense would wear them out," Hayes said of the Lions' fullcourt trap that forced 24 turnovers. "But give them credit. They stepped up and came back. They're fearless."
White and Thompkins nailed back-to-back threes to rock the house and cut it to 63-62 with 1:31 left. Floyd took its last lead after Aaron Willis forced a turnover and made two free throws with 41 seconds left.
That's when Longwood added a little Mayo.
"We were free-wheeling, but I saw I had a mismatch," the 5-11 Mayo said of being defended by a 5-7 Colonial. "He gave me some space and I shot the ball."
The win wasn't secured, however, until Paris Parks (17 points, six assists, four steals) sank two free throws with 3.9 seconds.
"When I missed , I just knew I'd get another chance," Parks said. "I was laughing in the huddle when called timeout to freeze me. I knew I'd knock them down."
Willis' desperation three-point attempt missed, allowing all the Lions to share a moment of pure ecstasy.