That's how Wagner defeated Santa Clara Friday night in the nation's oldest regular-season tournament, Santa Clara's Cable Car Classic. There is no dispute: the Seahawks' basket should not have counted.
First of all, before the game-winning shot is launched by Kenny Ortiz, the ball appears to land on the out-of-bounds line. The angle's not great, so it can be disputed, and if you'd like to do that, I won't fight you. But after that no-call, the circus shot -- fun as it is to watch -- should not count. From fifth-grade officiating on up, every stripe should and does know that if the ball falls through the hoop but has to take the roundabout way of travelling from behind the backboard to get there: no points.
If I'm breaking out rules, articles and sections, you know it's serious. Nonetheless, here it is, straight from the official rulebook. Rule 9, Section 3, Article 2, in all its succinct glory:
"The ball shall be out of bounds when any part of the ball passes over the backboard from any direction."Go ahead and watch it again. Yep, Rule 9, Section 3, Article 2 is most definitely violated. Doesn't much matter, as Santa Clara is now
8-5 and Wagner's stellar season improves to 10-3. It was a 64-62 final; overtime should have been held.
Going forward, the question is, will the West Coast Conference punish its officials for costing a team a game for neglecting a fairly obvious rule?
It's happened before at the Cable Car Classic. Three years ago, in fact, and it was over a rule much less well-known. In 2008, coach Kerry Keating and Santa Clara were on the good end of a botched outcome. The Broncos defeated UTEP after John Bryant hit a game-winning shot. Only Bryant was subbed in after an inadvertent stoppage of time by the officials. With less than a minute remaining, such a substitution isn't allowed.
Bryant, of all people, had to be the one to give Santa Clara the W. UTEP didn't protest -- because it didn't know the rule either. The league reviewed it a few days later, and sure enough, that officiating crew was suspended for one game.
WCC director of officials Dave Libbey was at Friday night's Wagner-Santa Clara game. He knows what happened and he knows it was wrong. The league has yet to offer a retraction or apology. That should come soon, Monday at the latest. And if the league's going to be consistent with disciplining erroneous calls, the three officials from Friday night's game -- Mark Cook, Michael Rapp and Tony Padilla -- deserve to sit a game as well.
The Broncos move on with their season, looking ahead to conference play, but they're still owed a public apology for having a win against a good team ripped from away from them due to an egregious stripes oversight.