Dontay Hampton already had scored a career-high 22 points in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball game Thursday night against visiting Appalachian State, including a tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation and a go-ahead 3 in overtime.
But he couldn't make either of two free throws with nine seconds left in the extra period.
He had a reason.
He broke his hand -- his right hand, his shooting hand.
"It's not good," UTC coach John Shulman said Friday. "When he looked at me after the game, it was displaced."
ASU forward Nathan Healy hip-checked Hampton near midcourt while trying to induce a turnover -- or foul -- in the closing seconds of the Mocs' 91-88 win, forcing Hampton to brace his hand on the court for a split-second to remain on his feet.
Hampton tried to shake off the stinging sensation in the bone of his hand that is in line with his middle finger. The break was in the third metacarpal.
A bag of ice momentarily numbed the pain that the former Arts & Sciences star felt while addressing the media. A little adrenaline from the dramatic win -- a comeback from 19 points down in the final 6:36 -- may also have served as a small dose of aspirin for the moment.
"They fouled me on that last one, and he hit my elbow or something, and I pushed down on the ground," Hampton said Thursday after the game. "It's a little sprain. I'll be fine."
Friday, however, Hampton walked into the Chattem Practice Facility wearing a soft cast on his hand and a stern look on his face as he walked into the daily pre-practice meeting.
He did not look happy while Shulman explained the little that he knows about Hampton's hand.
"I don't know yet," Shulman said, several times. "I wouldn't put a whole lot of things by him. I don't know yet. I don't know."
The worst-case scenario is that Hampton's career is over, barely after his senior season finally got under way. But better scenarios are possible.
"We're going to see how painful it is," Shulman said. "There is one way you can go with no surgery and see how painful it is. If it's so painful that you can't do anything, then you can put screws and plates in it to stabilize it, but then you're pushing back a couple weeks."
A hand injury is enough to infuriate any basketball player. For it to come in the third game back after intensive ACL rehabilitation is more than adding salt to a wound. It's kicking a man to the valley after he fought his way to the zenith of his senior season.
"He may be done," Shulman said. "I wouldn't put it past him to be playing soon. I don't know. ... It's painful and swollen right now and it's broken. I think we'll have to play things by ear."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...