A victory would have put La Salle back on the men's basketball map.
Sure, the win over Big East member Providence was a resumé builder. A victory over Oklahoma State, however, might have brought the national spotlight.
But . . .
"We blew a big opportunity," La Salle coach John Giannini said after Sunday's 92-87, double-overtime setback to the Cowboys at the Palestra. "No sugarcoating it at all. We blew a big one.
"But what I told our team was, it really wasn't through lack of effort."
It's just that missed opportunities and an inability to defend Oklahoma State's Marshall Moses eventually doomed the Explorers (5-3).
The 6-foot-7, 255-pound junior from Aiken, S.C., scored 27 of his career-high 30 points in the second half and in the two overtimes. Moses also grabbed 11 of his game-high 18 rebounds after intermission.
He was especially impressive in the second overtime.
Sam Mills' three-pointer pulled the Explorers within two points (86-84) with 3 minutes, 22 seconds left in the session.
But Moses' tip-in 11 seconds later took away La Salle's momentum and made it a four-point game.
He later stole the ball twice from freshman point guard Tyreek Duran. Then, with the Cowboys (7-1) clinging to a two-point lead, Moses' jumper with 14 seconds left gave them a 91-87 cushion.
"He was awfully good," Gianinni said. "You don't usually see a stat sheet the way I'm looking at one now. Thirty and 18 is probably pretty good, including for people named LeBron [James] and Kobe [Bryant]."
It was Moses' third double-double in four games.
But with Aaric Murray (23 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocked shots) and Jerrell Williams (23 points, nine rebounds) leading the way, the Explorers had several opportunities to win a game that had 12 lead changes and 11 ties.
La Salle held a 10-point lead three times in the second half.
But Oklahoma State kept battling back, thanks to Moses and La Salle's 20 turnovers.
Still, it appeared the Explorers would win in regulation.
Williams was fouled by Moses while converting a layup to give La Salle a 67-63 lead with 1:12 left in regulation.
The senior forward missed the ensuing foul shot that would have given the Explorers a five-point cushion.
And with 7 seconds left, Moses' jumper made it a 67-67 game and forced overtime.
"We tried to trap him, but then again, he just made a tough shot," Williams said of Moses' overtime-forcer. "We tried to double him during the whole game. He just made tough shots."
After trailing by 88-84 in the second overtime, La Salle turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions. But the Explorers still had an opportunity.
A three-pointer by Ruben Guillandeaux pulled La Salle within 89-87 with 49 seconds left, but those turned out to be the Explorers' final points.
The difference in the game was "one play in 50 minutes of basketball," Giannini said.
He added that the decisive play could have been one of many of La Salle's missed opportunities.
"If we could have avoided a turnover in the first half, that could be the difference," Giannini said. "You take a better shot somewhere in the second half, that could be the difference. You know where to line up on the jump ball, and don't give them a layup on the start of jump ball, that could be the difference."