Something - no, make that someone - was missing from Morehead State's game plan Wednesday.
Brianna McQueen could only watch as the second-seeded Eagles fell 73-67 to seven-seed Eastern Kentucky in the Ohio Valley Conference Women's Basketball Tournament.
McQueen, a 5-foot-3 fifth-year senior and MSU's first-team all-conference pick, suffered a torn ACL in her right knee two weeks earlier, prematurely ending her collegiate career.
With a team-high 13.7-point average, not to mention 3.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, McQueen could have been a difference maker Wednesday in Municipal Auditorium.
"Yes, yes," she agreed. "It hurts. It does.”
"I had big hopes for us. Go all the way, see Belmont again in the championship. Our goal was to get to the championship, so this loss really hurts a lot."
MSU (21-9) may not be finished yet, though.
"We feel like we've got a real good opportunity to play a postseason event somewhere," Coach Greg Todd said. "We're still definitely excited about that."
But it won't be the postseason event that the Eagles had been hoping for - the NCAA Tournament.
Todd acknowledged that McQueen's absence hurt, but that's how things go sometimes.
"Obviously she's a young lady in an athletic game where they're able to press and play a similar style to us, she makes even a bigger difference," Todd said. "She had two excellent games against them previously. But we knew we were going to be without her. We've had a little bit of time. I think our team has been playing pretty well without her.”
"But, sure, I think any team in the country from peewee to middle school on up, you lose your top player, your leading scorer, it's going to have some effect. I think we've done a good job of continuing to play well without her. And give her a lot of credit - she's been sort of a student assistant coach and cheering us on. But, yes, we definitely miss her."
Morehead State led all of 1:13 in the game - 3-0 on Miranda Crockett's three-point play.
Eastern Kentucky led 26-15 through one quarter and 40-29 at halftime.
"We've got to pick it up," McQueen said of her advice to her teammates. "I mean, we can't come out here slow. So I was just telling them 'pick it up and let's get to it.'"
Jalen O'Bannon, the Colonels' All-OVC first teamer, scored her team's first 10 points of the second half, but the margin was still manageable at 49-39.
But EKU closed the quarter on an 8-2 run to lead 57-41, and the lead grew to as many as 21 in the fourth quarter.
"That's when they really took off on their lead," McQueen said. "When we had them at 10, that's when (O'Bannon) picked it up and some things went south. But if I was in, it would have been a different story."
O'Bannon would finish with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
McQueen was injured Feb. 15 against Tennessee State.
With the shot clock winding down, she drove to the basket and launched a floater. Untouched, her knee buckled.
Now, she's scheduled for surgery March 10. That will be followed by a six-to-nine-month rehab program. After that, she hopes to play professional basketball overseas.
She is on course to graduate in May, majoring in universal studies and with a minor in health.
"I feel fine. The knee doesn't bother me that much," she said. "I'm really waiting for surgery so I can get back on it and get right back on the court.”
"When I came into this year, I felt like this could be our year. We had a good squad, especially with me as the leader on the team. I felt like we had a great chance of winning it."