Trailing by six, the 6'0 Telfair scrambled for a loose ball near midcourt when his right ankle was rolled over on by Edgewater's Jeremy McClendon with 27.1 seconds left in the first half. With U of L head coach Rick Pitino and assistant Kevin Willard looking on in concern, Telfair lay on the court for several minutes in what appeared to be excruciating pain with a severely sprained ankle. However, the Coney Island native, got up under his own power and tried to remain in the game until forced to take a seat by officials and Lincoln coach Tiny Morton.
"Definitely," Morton said when asked at halftime if Telfair would return in the second half. "If it ain't broke he's going to play."
Before the injury, Telfair had a solid first half of action against the nation's ninth ranked team.
Edgewater tried to press Telfair but the shifty point guard single handedly broke through the pressure several times for open court layups and assists before Orlando was forced to take the pressure off. At the break, Telfair had 11 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and 3 turnovers as Lincoln trailed Edgewater, 35-33.
Washington scored at will in the first half with 20 points.
After icing and heavily taping his ankle at halftime and playing through considerable physical pain, Telfair turned in a heroic effort in the third quarter, knocking in two jumpers, including an NBA pull up three pointer, a lay up on the break, and two spectacular assists to keep Lincoln within striking distance of Washington and Edgewater.
Just how tough is Sebastian Telfair?
Consider this. While limping and grimacing, Telfair played every minute of the second half after rolling the ankle at the end of the first half. In the final half, he was seen diving out of bounds of loose balls, attempting to take a charge and slicing through the lane for easy baskets. All the while forcing the tempo in the final quarter of action.
"That's the Brooklyn heart in him," rapper JayZ said of Telfair.
But it was his play down the stretch that makes Telfair the special player and fierce competitor that he is. He opened the fourth quarter with two coast-to-coast driving lay ups through traffic to cut Edgewater's leads to two at 63-61 with 6:31 to play.
Telfair cut the lead to two at 65-63 with 5:20 on a short jump shot in the lane, then took a charge to give Lincoln possession again. On the next play, Telfair penetrated Edgewater's defense and dished to an open teammate for a three that gave the Railsplitters their first lead of the second half, 66-65 with 4:55 remaining.
Leading 72-71 with 2:41, Telfair hit 1-2 free throws to extend Lincoln's lead to two. Washington then answered with two free throws to tie the game at 73 with 2:10 remaining.
Pena finished with 20
With the game on the line, Telfair buried both free throws and after a Darius Washington miss on the other end, Nyan Boetang scored on the break to give Lincoln an 81-76 lead with 15 seconds remaining.
Pena finished with 20 points and was key to Lincoln second half comeback victory.
For his effort in Lincoln's 82-77 win, Telfair was named the Reebok Player of the Game after posting 27 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 4 turnovers. Telfair hit 10-16 shots, including 2-6 from downtown. He was 5-9 from the free throw line.
"Well, when I went back to get taped up my family looked at me and said, ‘there's no pain,'" Telfair explained of his decision to play during the second half. "You know the lights were on and I had to go on and perform. So I had to come out and ignore my injury and keep playing. I'll worry about the injury tomorrow."
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final ------------------------- Edgewater 20 15 27 15 77 Lincoln 19 14 24 25 82