ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Kylie Lambert will never forget the couple of hours she spent at the U.S. Cellular Center on Monday. What the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior experienced was indelible and pretty incredible.
Not only did Lambert make a few key plays in the Lady Mocs' 64-63 win over Davidson to win the Southern Conference women's basketball championship, but she also got engaged at midcourt during the postgame festivities.
As the nets were being cut down, Lambert's boyfriend of more than three years, Grant Brown, got down on one knee on top of the SoCon logo and stunned Lambert with a proposal.
"Getting two rings in one night, that's definitely ... it's amazing," a still-overwhelmed Lambert said, tears drying on her flushed cheeks.
Lambert made two pivotal plays during the game. At the end of the first half, with UTC trailing 32-22, she buried a 3-point shot from the left corner to cut the margin to a more manageable 32-25.
Late in the game, after Taylor Hall had cut Davidson's lead to 63-62 with 43 seconds left, Lambert drew an offensive foul near the top of the key on Davidson's Laura Murray. That gave UTC the ball back with a chance for the win with 24.4 seconds left.
"I knew that she was pushing off even before we even got to that play, so I just played my regular defense and hoped for the best," Lambert said, adding that she wasn't trying to take a charge.
Already full of joy from a win that gives Lambert and fellow senior Kayla Christopher SoCon sweeps as freshman and seniors, Lambert never saw Brown's proposal coming, at least not Monday in front of a few hundred Lady Mocs fans.
"I was definitely blindsided," she said.
Which was exactly his plan. Brown said he had a post-championship proposal in mind for a few weeks, one contingent upon the Lady Mocs winning.
"I was pretty scared because I wanted to get this thing over with," he said, adding that he had no backup plan if UTC had lost.
The Lady Mocs won and are headed back to the NCAA tournament, and Lambert has an engaging story to tell.
"It's a day that I'll forever remember, that's for sure," she said.