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Jack Freifelder | | March 4, 2017

St. Francis (PA) downs Wagner in NEC Semifinal on wild buzzer-beater

  St. Francis (PA) freshman guard Keith Braxton (13) knocked in a game-winning heave at the buzzer.

A busy Saturday slate would not be complete without a few hectic finishes, and college basketball fans who tuned in early this week have at least one finish they have to see. And it comes to the college basketball world courtesy of the Northeast Conference Tournament.

In a Saturday semifinal between the St. Francis Red Flash and the Wagner Seahawks, St. Francis opened things up by taking a double-digit lead midway through the first half.

The Seahawks managed to get things back to a six-point deficit at the halftime horn, 35-29, but few Wagner players could get on track from the field other than senior guard Michael Carey who paced the team with 20 first-half points.

The second half, however, would feel like a different ballgame as both teams came out with a little extra verve. And the tension in Wagner's 2,100-seat Spiro Sports Center was palpable as St. Francis and Wagner battled down to the wire for the lead. The last minute of the game was pure basketball chaos at its best.

If Carey's scoring was the story of the first half, then his teammate Corey Henson stole the headlines in the second half with 23 points of his 25 points to help keep the Seahawks in lockstep with their NEC foe. A late 3-pointer from Henson gave Wagner the lead (68-65) with just under a minute to play, but a response on the other end from St. Francis' Jamaal King brought the score back even with just about 30 seconds to play.

On the following possession, the Seahawks ran some clock before Carey gave his team its final lead of the game. The native of the Bahamas hit a running right-hand hook shot with just over seven seconds left to play. A kind bounce off the front iron gave Carey's runner the roll it needed to fall through.

The bucket set the stage for a potential game-winner.

St. Francis rushed the ball downcourt and found freshman guard Keith Braxton who was blanketed by his defender. A pump fake didn't create much space for the New Jersey native, but a last-second heave found the bottom of the net after rolling around the rim and dropping through as time expired. No doubt a tough way for any team to lose a ballgame, let alone a chance to get to the Big Dance, but that's just the way the ball bounces sometimes — or better said, that's just the way the ball rolls.

Attention college basketball fans: There's plenty of good action out there in all of the conference tournaments. Peel back those Power 5 blinders a bit y'all, you might like what you see after all.

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