Eight times in its star-crossed history, William & Mary has come within one win of escaping ignominy.

Never has falling short been this painful.

Having surged to a six-point lead with 80 seconds remaining in Monday night's CAA championship game, William & Mary appeared to be in position to secure its first NCAA bid in program history. Instead the Tribe surrendered the final seven points of the game to top-seeded Delaware and suffered a heartbreaking 75-74 loss that had to leave their fans wondering if they'll live to see William & Mary in an NCAA tournament game.

Devon Saddler attacked the rim and sank a pair of free throws to trim the lead to four with 1:10 remaining. Jarvis Threatt drove around a top-of-the-key screen, drew contact and made the layup and the free throw to make it a one-point game with 51.3 seconds left. And with William & Mary focused on taking away dribble penetration from the high-scoring Delaware guards, big man Carl Baptiste shook free for the game-winning layup with 13 seconds to play.

Delaware's comeback secured the Blue Hens' first NCAA bid since 1999 and ensured William & Mary would remain among the "Forgotten Five." The Tribe joins Northwestern, St. Francis (NY), Army and the Citadel as programs that have been in Division I since the NCAA tournament's inception in 1947 but have never earned a bid.

"It's tough," William & Mary coach Tony Shaver said late Monday night. "The locker room was completely down. At some point they'll realized what they accomplished this year, but there wasn't a dry eye in there, as you'd expect. They're very crushed."