It didn't matter that the free throws missed. The Hawks were A-10 champs for the first time since 1999. Fordham, on the short end of 47-46, was denied its first NCAA bid.
Hawks guard Natasha Cloud, the outstanding player of the tournament - a no-brainer pick after the Cardinal O'Hara graduate took over the title game at a key stretch and made contributions up and down the stat sheet - grabbed her coach, Cindy Griffin, and lifted her into the air.
"We're not going to leave here with any regrets," Hawks guard Ashley Prim said was the message of the day. "We're not going to leave this gym without a win."
St. Joe's was going to get a bid, win or lose, after a big semifinal win over Dayton. Fordham needed to win here. Coach Stephanie Gaitley, in her second season, architect of a remarkable rise in the Bronx, shook hands quickly then went looking for an A-10 official. She found several and talked about a whistle she found unbelievable.
"I've always believed it should be the kids determining the outcome," Gaitley said of a whistle away from the ball, a post player called for a shove to gain position. "Let the kids determine the outcome. The frustrating thing for me, I'd been arguing about the other end, them doing the same thing. For it to go against you, on the last play, for a championship, and to go to the NCAA tournament, it's hard to say, because I haven't seen it."
When Gaitley took the job last season at Fordham, which hadn't even had a winning season since 1995, she had to know it would eventually play out like this if she was successful.
That NCAA bid on the line, so many familiar St. Joseph's Hawks faces down at the other end of the court, a game of mirror-image basketball, with so much unsaid just under the surface. Unimportant to the players, unavoidable for the longtimers.
Griffin's senior season had been Gaitley's first season coaching on Hawk Hill. But there is little shared history, and the handshakes come with barely a look.
The history isn't pretty. A dozen years ago, a Hawks player accused Gaitley of ignoring her when she told Gaitley about alleged sexual harassment by her husband. Gaitley's husband had been her assistant coach. Gaitley also was accused of making comments about her to other players and by blocking her from becoming a team captain. The school let the coach go.
Gaitley had said the day she was let go that she had refused to resign because she was being made a scapegoat.
But here was Gaitley, in one of the biggest games of her life.
"We spent the whole season saying no names on the jersey," Gaitley said.
That's fine for the players. For her . . .
"Obviously, it's emotionally tough because I coached there," Gaitley said. "Four of the people on the staff, I coached. They are a well-coached team, a very well-rounded team, a very strong program. It's bittersweet obviously, because it's for a championship."
Fordham scored the game's first 12 points. The Hawks missed their first 10 shots and didn't make anything against Fordham's scrappy, switching man-to-man until just under 7 minutes left before halftime. The Rams led by 24-16 at the break after holding Hawks leading scorer Chatilla van Grinsven, the 6-foot-3 senior from the Netherlands, to just two points.
There were big shots over a back-and-forth second half. Archbishop Carroll graduate Erin Shields hit a huge three-pointer, giving the Hawks a 43-42 lead with 21/2 minutes left just after Fordham hit two straight threes to wrest back the lead.
Anybody with any Hawks tie has to feel great for Griffin's getting to the dance. Afterward, she wore the net around her neck.
"Oooh, it's been a long time coming," said Griffin, who replaced Gaitley on Hawk Hill.
This one was memorable, even if you didn't know the history . . . right until the final whistle.
Contact Mike Jensen at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @jensenoffcampus.