Sixteen minutes and 17 seconds.
That's how long it took for Drexel to watch its dreams of consolatory glory salt away against UMass at the Daskalaski Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
The third-seeded Dragons looked like a dominant outfit—well, as dominant an outfit as an NIT team can be, anyway—against the visiting fifth-seeded Minutemen...
Then Dartaye Ruffin, who exploded for 17 points in the first half, stopped hitting (or even taking) shots, while UMass began ripping off buckets with reckless abandon.
First, it was Chaz Williams, who added another 10 of his own to finish with a game-high 20 points on the night, along with four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Terrell Vinson soon followed suit with 18, as did Jesse Morgan with 13.
The Dragons, on the other hand, could barely buy a bucket as the Minutemen watched their shooting skyrocket to 58.8 percent from the field by the end of the game.
That same energy, passion and determination that Drexel rode to 103 minutes and 43 seconds of winning hoops, borne out of a snub from the NCAA tournament despite a 27-6 overall record and a regular-season CAA title, seemed to slide by the wayside all too quickly.
And all too close to the "ultimate" goal of earning a trip to New York City for the Final Four of the NIT.
Instead, it'll be Derek Kellogg's club that moves on to Madison Square Garden to play either Stanford or Nevada next Tuesday, after becoming just the fourth team in NIT history to win three road games to get there.
Meanwhile, Bruiser Flint, who spent six years as the head coach at UMass before moving on to Drexel, will be left to stew over the defeat, images of Franz Massenat's desperation shot down the stretch clanging off the backboard.
And then, once the shock subsides, Flint and his players will remember this was the NIT, not the Big Dance, and subsequently remind themselves that spilt milk is no cause for shedding tears.
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