Nikola Cerina got in a fight Wednesday night in Columbus, at least that's what the rule book says.
The Northwestern big man got in one of those all-too-common basketball dust-ups in the Cats' game against the Buckeyes, first getting tangled up with Ohio State big man Amir Williams before taking a swing. It's that thrown punch — which missed its target — that earned Cerina a one-game suspension.
Cerina was just one part of an unpleasant get together between the Cats and Buckeyes on Wednesday, one that ended in five technical fouls and 10 straight free throws. After the two big men got a little too close for comfort, Cerina took his swing (the cause of his ejection) and Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross followed by shoving Cerina in the back. Ross was tossed, as well.
“I didn’t see it, so I trust what the referees said," Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said after the game, a 76-60 loss for the Cats. "They looked at the monitor and they took their time and they said they wanted to get it right. I want them to get it right, that’s what you want. I was at the other end of the floor. I saw a lot of bodies. It was kind of typical, sometimes you see a lot of pushing and grabbing. But personally I didn’t see any punches, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any thrown. I trust what the referees said, they got the fouls on us, the fouls on them, and then we played on.
“All they said was there was a disqualification flagrant on our kid and a push on our guy and they were going to shoot four free throws, and they told me I was going to shoot six free throws. They had three technicals, we had two. All they said was that Ross and Cerina were ejected for flagrant activity. It was a good crew, though. I thought they did a good job handling it. We didn’t let it escalate, Ohio State’s coaching staff, ours, everybody kind of calmed everybody down, and we got back to playing basketball.”
Like the vast majority of these scuffles, no one was hurt. Though the Wildcats' depth will be hurt, at least for one game, the next one against Indiana on Saturday. Cerina received a one-game suspension for his actions, as detailed by Big Ten lead official Ray Perone.
“By rule, No. 45 (Cerina) for Northwestern after he committed the common foul, a push on No. 23 (Williams), took a swing with a closed fist or close hand at No. 23 for Ohio State. That act is deemed to be fighting by rule, which is Rule 10, Section 5, Article 8: ‘Any time an individual uses a closed fist in an unsportsmanlike manner it shall be deemed that the individual has initiated a fighting act and be penalized accordingly.’ He does not have to make contact — the fact he swings with a closed fist is deemed to be a fighting act. No. 45 for Northwestern was disqualified for fighting and that carries a penalty (Rule 10, Section 5, Article 11): ‘The first time an individual participates in a fight during the season the individual shall be suspended from participating in the team’s next regular season game.’ No. 10 (Ross) for Ohio State was disqualified for two deadball contact technical fouls, which results in disqualification. No. 10 was not disqualified for fighting and will not be suspended for the next game.”