Today, at Madison Square Garden, an officiating debacle marred what was a classic Big East Tourney battle. It was a nasty, hard-fought, slug-fest of a basketball game, complete with terrible shooting (Rutgers shot 27.3% in the 1st half), sloppy turnovers, and a lot of physical play. It was ruined by about 5 seconds of atrocious officiating. That’s not to say that the refs were great for the first 99.9% of the game, they weren’t, they were inconsistent all night and made some questionable calls in the final 2 minutes of play. None, though, were more egregious than the 2 missed calls in the final 5 seconds.
After St. John’s guard D.J. Kennedy knocked down a pair of free throws, St. John’s held a one point advantage. Rutgers than got the ball underneath their own basket with 4.9 seconds left on the clock. The inbound pass was thrown to just past half-court where Scarlet Knight big man Gilvydas Biruta was fouled, nay, blatantly mugged (blown call #1) by a St. John’s player attempting to go for the steal. The resulting loose ball was scooped up by Red Storm big-man, Justin Brownlee, who proceeded to travel, step out-of-bounds, and toss the ball into the stands in celebration….ALL WHILE TIME WAS STILL LEFT ON THE GAME CLOCK. The first transgression by Brownlee was the travel, which occurred with just over 2 seconds left. The 2nd occurred when he stepped out-of-bounds with exactly 1.7 seconds remaining. Considering that Rutgers would have gotten the ball at mid-court, there would have been plenty of time for them to get off a clean shot. The refs, however, started walking off the court before the game was even over and never even noticed Brownlee waltzing out-of-bounds before the buzzer sounded.
Rutgers wuz robbed.
I love St. John’s. I’m rooting for them. I love that basketball is back in this city in both the pro and college ranks. I hope the Red Storm make a great run in the upcoming NCAA Tournament…but I want the teams that I pull for to win fairly and this ending was anything but fair. The Scarlet Knight’s played a great game. They hung tough with a superior opponent. They deserved that last shot. Unfortunately for them, the entire officiating crew had somewhere to be and decided to take the last 5 seconds of the game off. My guess, there was probably a lunch-special at Rick’s Cabaret.