On Thursday at the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament at The Barclay's in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of the most bizarre endings to a college basketball game took place in the match up between UNC-Charlotte and Richmond.
It was a game that I had the privilege of calling on the NBC Sports Network and it is a game that will not soon be forgotten.
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Here is what happened in the final wacky 10 seconds that saw Charlotte come from behind to stun Richmond and saw Spiders head coach Chris Mooney slapped with two technical fouls before being ejected from the game, which sealed a victory for the 49ers:
It all started when Richmond chose to foul to prevent Charlotte from attempting a game tying 3-pointer. Pierria Henry went to the line for a one and one and as his first free throw rattled home on the front end of a one-and-one, Richmond forward Derrick Williams and the 49ers' Willie Clayton battled for a potential rebound. Williams, who felt Clayton's hand on the back of his head retaliated by shoving Clayton to the floor drawing the attention of the baseline official who whistled him for a dead ball technical foul.
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Reggie Greenwood, the Atlantic 10 coordinator of officials said after the game that because the play happened during a dead ball, the rule makes the foul an automatic dead ball technical. The ball was considered dead once it went through the basket.
Instead of needing to intentionally miss the second free throw and hope for a tip in to tie the game Charlotte found themselves with three more foul shots (the second of the 1-and-1 plus the two shots for the technical foul and possession of the ball). Henry made the second of the 1-and-1 then both of his attempts for the technical to give Charlotte a 64-63 lead.
Then things got really wild because Richmond was forced to foul on the in-bounds and as Henry anticipated being fouled by Richmond's Greg Robbins, he heaved up a shot just inside half court. The officials, who should be anticipating a foul there, called a shooting foul, which because it came outside the 3-point line gave Charlotte three free throws.
Richmond coach Mooney went crazy, protesting the foul call being in the act of shooting and stormed onto the court. He also removed his suit coat and his actions earned him two technical fouls and an automatic ejection.
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The end result was that Pierria Henry took 11 free throws, made 8 and his club erased a 63-60 deficit and won 68-63 earning them a date with top seed St. Louis. Today, I spoke with a number of Division-1 coaches and referees and all agreed that the officials mismanaged the controversial ending by calling the original technical foul on Richmond's Derrick Williams.
Here's what the experts I polled today say should have happened:
1) The original battle for the rebound on the first free throw should have resulted in a dead ball double technical on Williams and Clayton, which would have resulted in no technical free throws because the fouls offset.
2) The foul that Richmond committed on Henry after Charlotte had taken a 64-63 lead should not have been called a shooting foul even though it was possibly the correct call.
"Any official that is good enough to work at the Division-1 level has to anticipate that Richmond is going to foul there. You cannot call that a shooting foul, especially after you screwed up the original technical foul call when it should have been offsetting dead ball technical fouls on each team," a veteran official who has worked multiple NCAA Tournaments and the Final Four told me today.
3) Once Mooney came onto the floor to protest the game, officials had no choice but to whistle him for two technical fouls and eject him from the game.
"Unfortunate as it was, the officials were correct in assessing him the two technical fouls. Yes, his team got a bad deal and lost a game in a very difficult way to accept. However, he lost his cool and he put the officials in a position where they had no choice but to whistle him and eject him," the same official told me.