Davonte Gaines stepped to the free throw line with 14 seconds left in George Mason's upset bid over No. 20 Maryland on Wednesday night with the Patriots leading by three. He sank both shots to move GMU's lead to two possessions and seal the 71-66 win.
Obviously those would be important free throws for any player, but they were especially big for Gaines.
"Ticket" Gaines transferred to George Mason this year from Tennessee, where he spent his first two seasons. In the semifinal round of the SEC Tournament last season, Gaines was brought into the game for the first time with less than a minute left and the Vols trailing by one. Rick Barnes hoped his defensive prowess would help get a stop and give UT the ball with a chance to win.
Having not played the entire game, Gaines came in and did exactly what he was supposed to do. He got a block and the defensive rebound, but was fouled before he could get rid of the ball. He would go to the line having not attempted a shot all night with a chance to give Tennessee the lead with just 25 seconds left.
He missed both. Alabama went on to win the game 73-68 and those two free throws were the last two shots Gaines ever attempted as a Vol.
I've never felt so bad for a kid. Ticket came in and did exactly what he was put in the game to do, only to have to attempt game-deciding free throws cold off the bench, which obviously didn't go the way anyone would have liked them to.
But that made it so cool to see him sink those two last night to give George Mason such a big win. His current head coach, Kim English, was an assistant at Tennessee the last couple years, too, and was just as happy to see him get that chance at redemption.
Gaines finished the huge win with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
What a cool story. Good for Ticket.