The prospect of a snowstorm prompted the two schools to move the game to an earlier starting time, thereby giving Shaw University a head start on its five-hour trip back to Raleigh, N.C.
The Bears, however, seemed in no hurry. Down by four points with 16 seconds left, they rallied to force overtime and, hitting 13 of 18 free throws in an interminable, foul-plagued five-minute extra period, handed the University of Charleston an agonizing 77-73 defeat Saturday afternoon at Eddie King Gym. A crowd of about 175 attended.
Afterward, Shaw coach Cleo Hill congratulated his players and began making plans for a restaurant stop on the road and an appropriate movie for on-the-road viewing.
The postgame congratulating and celebrating suggested it was a much-needed victory for Shaw, a team familiar to West Virginia opposition that lost six of its first seven games, including a 66-61 setback to UC in Raleigh Nov. 23.
Such a start is uncharacteristic for the Bears. In the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, they reached the NCAA Division II regionals, where they lost to West Liberty by five and 11 points, respectively.
"We have 10 new guys,'' said Hill. "The road has been rough. The guys are learning the system, and we've been improving each game.''
Xavier Humphrey had twice given UC a four-point lead on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 50 seconds left in regulation and on two free throws with 16 seconds remaining.
But Shaw's Aquil Younger scored a 2-pointer with nine seconds to go and, after a Shaw steal, Curtis Hines drove for a layup that rolled tantalizingly around the rim and fell through as the horn sounded.
Shaw had trailed the entire second half - except for ties at 32-32 and 60-60 at the end of regulation.
"It's frustrating, really frustrating,'' said UC coach Dwaine Osborne.