The frantic final seconds produced the same sensation one has before a sneeze.
Then the horn sounded, making UCLA's 75-74 loss to Oregon on Friday night official.
Expelled from the Pacific 10 Conference tournament were the No. 8-seeded Bruins after squandering a 12-point lead with less than four minutes to play, obscuring the fabulous first-round upset of Arizona a day earlier and a mostly inspired effort against the Ducks.
Ousted from his position as UCLA coach will be Steve Lavin, his long-anticipated dismissal now only a news release away sometime in the next few days. He said a meeting with Athletic Director Dan Guerrero is not scheduled yet, but he's expecting the call.
"I've been at UCLA long enough that I'm aware of the landscape," Lavin said in the same wry tone he has used for weeks.
"You have a pulse of things."
Like aloha, this loss meant goodbye and hello.
It marked a farewell to seniors Ray Young and Jason Kapono, who led a modest late-season charge that triggered talk of a miracle.
Young, the hero against Arizona, was outstanding again, scoring 21 points, but only three came in the second half and he missed an off-balance eight-foot runner from the right side with two seconds left that could have won the game.
Kapono scored point No. 2,095 of his career with a first-half free throw to tie Reggie Miller for third place on the all-time UCLA list, but was scoreless thereafter. Clearly fatigued, he made two of 10 shots and scored five points.
But the game also signaled a hello to a new Bruin era, one that will bear the stamp of Lavin's successor.
Ben Howland of Pittsburgh and Mark Few of Gonzaga appear to be leading candidates in a search that could last until after the Final Four the first weekend in April.
In the locker room, a tearful Lavin said goodbye to a Bruin team that finished 10-19 -- the school's worst record since 1941-42 -- endured a nine-game midseason losing streak and generated excitement by winning five of its last eight.
"It was a very tough speech for him to make," said forward T.J. Cummings, who is considering making himself available for the NBA draft. "Coach Lavin brought me here. I love him and so does the rest of this team. Whatever he does in life, I hope he's successful.
"We tried to pull off a miracle run, and we almost did it."
Guerrero, however, prefers a hard-nosed, disciplined team that plays well from the beginning of the season until the end, a team that doesn't need a frenzied tournament run to obscure months of ineptitude.
Like so many of Lavin's teams, this one teased Bruin followers with the prospect of another fairy tale, a magic carpet ride.
But the magic didn't run out against Oregon (22-9). Composure did. Shot selection did. Defending the three-point shot did.
Problems that plagued the Bruins all season, such as inbounding the ball against a full-court press, cropped up in the last three minutes when Oregon closed a 71-59 gap and took the lead on a three-point basket by Luke Jackson with 17 seconds left.
Dijon Thompson, who led UCLA with 23 points, dribbled across midcourt and passed to Young, clearly the choice to take the deciding shot. But it hit the heel and bounced beyond the reach of any Bruin.
"I had a clean look at the basket," Young said. "It wasn't like a blur or anything."
The last several minutes were a bit hazy to the Bruins, who found themselves in the unfamiliar position of protecting a lead. They got overly cautious on offense and Oregon finally began to make long-range shots.
James Davis made a three-pointer to cut the deficit to eight with three minutes left and the Duck press forced two consecutive turnovers in the backcourt, closing the gap to 73-69 on a layup by Luke Ridnour.
Davis made another three-pointer and Dijon Thompson made one of two free throws, setting up Jackson's game-winner.
Ridnour, the Pac-10 player of the year, had 16 points and nine assists one night after making a last-second shot to beat Arizona State. Again, he displayed leadership down the stretch.
"We didn't play very well or shoot well, but we kept fighting and things started going in our favor," Ridnour said.
UCLA led, 45-42, at halftime thanks to one of Young's reckless, twisting fallaway jump shots in the last second. He had 18 points in the half.
The last time these teams met, Oregon jumped to a 13-0 lead, but that game was at deafening McArthur Court. This was amid the more tranquil environs of Staples Center, with the stands full of as many USC fans waiting for the second game of the doubleheader as Bruin fans.
Seven Oregon players scored in the first 10:30, but UCLA countered by taking the ball inside and drawing fouls, making 12 of 17 free throws in the half.
UCLA outplayed the Ducks for the first 17 minutes of the second half. The last three were fatal, however.
To the Bruins. And to Lavin.
"It's the last time with these kids, who went through an incredibly demanding season," he said. "It's very emotional because it's the finale. It will take a day or so for this to sink in."
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
lowlights from the Bruins' 2002-03
record since 1947-48 (12-13).
victories since 1945-46 (eight).
Most losses since 1940-41 (20).
Biggest margin of defeat at Pauley Pavilion (87-52 against Arizona).
Longest losing streak in a
The last year UCLA didn't play in NCAA tournament.
Place in conference, matching last season's finish.