March Madness: Tiny St. Francis Stumbles in Bid for 1st NCAA Tournament Berth

The Brooklyn college was one win away from first-ever trip to NCAA tournament.

— -- The third time could have been the charm for St. Francis College, the tiny Brooklyn, New York, school that was bidding for its first taste of March Madness.

But even with a raucous crowd cheering them on in the little gym on the five-building campus, the Terriers fell 66-63 to Robert Morris College from suburban Pittsburgh in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game.

Had the Terriers won, it would have put the school, which has fewer than 3,000 students and plays in a gym that doesn't even seat 1,000, into the NCAA men's basketball tournament for the first time in its history.

"We're a working-class, hard-core Brooklyn basketball team and our fans come from that same background," tournament director Robert Oliva told ABC station WABC-TV in New York. "They are the pride and joy of St. Francis College, and reflect how great the student body is."

Alumni relations director Dennis McDermott said just making it to the NEC title game has been good for the school.

"Yesterday, someone paid for the ticket for $30 and said, 'Hold on, let me give you another $500,'" McDermott told WABC-TV. "We keep getting phone calls like that, that'll be great for St. Francis College."

The top-seeded Terriers, 23-11, had a chance to tie with 2.4 seconds left when Tyreek Jewell, who scored 19 points, was fouled shooting a desperation 3-pointer.

He went to the line, but he missed the first two free throws and then missed the third intentionally.

The Terriers couldn't control the rebound, and the Colonials, 19-15, earned their first trip to the tournament since 2010. Rodney Pryor scored 17 points to lead five players in double figures for Robert Morris.

Over 76 seasons -- more than 1,800 games -- St. Francis has never appeared in the NCAA tournament. The school is one of just five that had never made the March Madness field since the modern reclassification of Division I in 1948.

St. Francis, the top seed in the NEC, has been in the conference championship twice before, but lost to Monmouth in 2001 and Wagner two years later.

Robert Morris, the second seed in the conference tournament, was in the title game for the sixth time in seven seasons.