With just under five seconds left, Drew missed an open, leaning 3-pointer. The Crusaders trailed 69-67. They were forced to foul with 4.1 seconds left.
“I was dejected,” Sykes said. “At that point you feel you've lost the game.”
Ansu Sesay, the SEC Player of the Year, had a chance to seal an Ole Miss win but missed two free throws.
If Sesay drained both foul shots the Rebels win and the game is merely another high seed avoiding a first-round upset. If Sesay made one free throw, Drew's 3-pointer only would have forced overtime.
Sesay, a 74 percent free throw shooter, missed both. After the first miss, Valpo called its final timeout.
After Sesay missed the second attempt, the ball bounced out of bounds with 2.5 seconds left.
“Bill actually knocked the ball out of bounds,” Sykes said. “They should have gotten the ball back but they gave it to us. That play should have never happened.”
Valpo's three players are now in their mid-30s. Drew is in his second season as Valpo's head coach, succeeding his father.
Sykes played five years in the Diamondbacks system, reaching Double-A. He lives in Monee, Ill., 30 miles south of Chicago. He works at a satellite office for an oil recycling company based in Wichita.
“It's a feel-good moment for me I take a lot of pride in but what I like most is my friends, people around me, find more joy and more pride in it than I do,” Sykes said. “Everybody wants to be an athlete. Most people don't get to experience that. I've been so blessed. I enjoy watching people around me describe it.”
Jenkins played two seasons professionally in Portugal before returning to Milwaukee, his hometown. He's a national sales manager and also owns duplex, a downtown club/restaurant.
“Every March I become famous for a few minutes,” Jenkins said. “I can't begin to explain to people the feeling of winning a game in the NCAA Tournament on a play like that, Every time they show it I still get the willies.”