The first words out of BayRunners coach Terry Truax's mouth in his post-game news conference were, "Wow, what a way to end it."
That was followed by the type of crooked smile that follows a facetious remark because he knew the BayRunners did nothing to wow the 6,120 fans at Baltimore Arena.
So the 98-86 season-ending loss to the Trenton Stars was like the inaugural game: a disappointing defeat at home to a team that is going where the BayRunners are not -- to the International Basketball League playoffs.
The Stars won last night's game by holding the BayRunners to 41 percent shooting and controlling play in the second half.
"This may really sound hilarious because of our record, but we just took this game lightly," Truax said. "It appeared that we did in terms of our play: not taking care of the ball and defending.
"This has been with our team all year. We've just lacked the defensive presence and defensive aggression. I don't know if it is lack of pride in playing defense. I think in many cases our team wants to be comfortable. Sometimes when you score baskets easy, the defense becomes a little tentative."
The defense was the problem in the opening game and throughout the season for the BayRunners (17-47), who never contended for the East division title, and lost out to Richmond for the third and final spot in the postseason.
Truax was an assistant the first time the Stars and BayRunners met. Since then, he has replaced Herb Brown, watched the team lose 22 in a row, then come back to win four in a row.
But the season ended on a two-game skid that put the BayRunners one game behind San Diego for the league's worst record.
"Hopefully the fans come out and support us next year," said guard Kurk Lee, who scored 17 points last night. "I can't say much about the players because you don't know who's coming back."
There is a good chance that Lee will be one of the few returning. He started along with LaBradford Smith, Shawnta Rogers, Rodney Elliott and Mark Blount.
Those five, along with Steve Goodrich, have been there since the opener, and Truax said he wanted to reward them with the extended playing time.
Rogers sparked the team with 24 points, including 6-for-10 from three-point range. But the BayRunners had no answer for Stars guard Ray Tutt, who scored a game-high 39 on 14-of-22 shooting.
"We just didn't win like I thought we would," Rogers said. "All the coaching changes and players. Everybody just wasn't focused enough to get it done. Everybody."