Under the boards Mohr was scrapping for rebounds against the taller Batts. Our big guys were beating their big guys, keeping us in the game as Moates demonstrated the difference between a first-team All-Southern Conference guard and an also-ran like me. After taking me over three picks, he put up a jump shot that arched more steeply than a rainbow. When it scorched the net I felt like the sky was falling in on me. I heard Coach Thompson scream, "Fight him, Pat! Fight him for everything it's worth. Don't quit on me."
Those words ignited me, and I vowed to put Moates on the floor on his next possession. Then I had a better idea. We had run the court since the opening whistle, fast-breaking every time we touched the ball and keeping the lead for most of the first half. I noticed exhaustion on Moates's face with nine minutes left in the half, and I saw him gasp for breath as he guarded me. "Hey, Moates," I yelled. "You know what I noticed at Camp Wahoo last summer? You can't play defense worth s—-."
"I can sure score, though, can't I, Conroy?" he said back.
"But Johnny, how you gonna keep me out of the paint?" And I blew by him, leaving him flat-footed at the top of the key. I was flying into the lane when the 6'8" Batts moved out to intercept me with his hands held high. I flicked a bounce pass to Mohr, who laid it up. Each time we came downcourt I drove past Moates, and if no one came out to contest me, I laid it up. If Green picked me up, I passed to Bridges or anyone else who was open.
To end the half DeBrosse retrieved a jump ball and hit Mohr near the foul line. Mohr dribbled once, then launched a shot from half-court that swished through the net at the buzzer. Richmond led us 47-45. They had shot an amazing 65-5% from the field. Moates had lit me up for 21 points. I walked into that locker room feeling like the worst defensive player in America.
The Citadel came out in the second half burning and clawing for every loose ball and rebound, and at the 12-minute mark the score was 61-61. Every time Moates guarded me, I drove the lane hard. Richmond players knocked me to the floor again and again. I ended up shooting 14 free throws—a career high—and made 11 of them. Both Harvey Roberts and Larry Patterson fouled out taking me to the floor.
Six times during the game, Green's knee hit my thigh squarely, the pain as bad as anything I'd experienced on the court. It was smart, not dirty, basketball, and it was damaging my game. But I noticed that Moates was fighting for breath at the same time I was running out of gas.
We went ahead. They went ahead. We responded. They answered. The game was tied at 84. We stormed back and went ahead. Green scored. Mohr scored. Batts scored. The game went into overtime.
Gasping for air, I wished the time between the end of regulation and the beginning of overtime would stretch to an hour. When the horn sounded two of our practice players lifted me to my feet. I do not think I could've risen without them.
The overtime period proved to be just as racehorse and chaotic as the first 50 minutes. Our rebounding slowed down, and our big guys ran out of gas under the boards. Though we were the third-best rebounding team in the conference, Richmond's big men began to dominate the boards. Bridges and Mohr had given everything they had. DeBrosse and I held each other up during foul shots and jump balls.