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The NCAA admitted on Saturday that its officials missed a basket-interference call late in a competitive second-round tournament game in Salt Lake City.
An intense second half between 1-seed Gonzaga and 8-seed Northwestern was sent sideways after a sequence of events that changed the direction of the game.
Gonzagaâs Zach Collins illegally blocked a shot by NUâs Derek Pardon. Collinsâ hand was inside the rim, which is a no-no.
From the NCAA:
âWith 4:57 remaining in this eveningâs second-round game between Gonzaga and Northwestern, the officials missed a rules violation when a Gonzaga defender put his arm through the rim to block a shot. Rule 9, Section 15 of the NCAA Menâs Basketball Rules Book covers Basket Interference and Goaltending. Article 2.a.3 states that basket interference occurs when a player reaches through the basket from below and touches the ball before it enters the cylinder. Replays showed the Gonzaga defender violated this rule, which should have resulted in a scored basket by Northwestern.â
Did the referees missing interference and calling a technical on Chris Collins cost Northwestern the game? Debate: https://t.co/C5hfYKogn3pic.twitter.com/pYT52wIUDs— Fandings (@fandings) March 18, 2017
Northwestern coach Chris Collins -- who admitted afterward he was flirting with a technical foul all afternoon -- then scurried onto the floor to object to the missed call. He was slammed with a technical.
âSubsequently, with 4:54 remaining in the game and based on bench decorum rules outlined in the rules book, a technical foul was assessed to Northwestern head coach Chris Collins for coming on to the floor to argue the non-call while the ball was in play,â the NCAAâs statement reads.
The controversial non-call and then the warranted technical came with less than five minutes remaining in a five-point game amid a double-digit run/comeback by Northwestern. The succeeding four-point swing tilted the outcome in Gonzagaâs favor; Northwestern never got closer than five points, and Gonzaga won 79-73 to advance to the Sweet 16.
Collins was right to protest. He was wrong to treat the coaches box like a snake pit and run onto the floor to meet the official. He deserved the technical. He has to take the blame for that. But itâs also frustrating to see the officials miss a call like this. Zach Collinsâ hand slips up through the netting. This wasnât close.
Take a closer look. Tough for viewers to see in real time, but the officials need to be on the ball with this.
March 18, 2017
Hereâs Collinsâ reaction as he hears the NCAAâs statement for the first time. This was made before he gave his opening statement to the media.
Chris Collins with a priceless reaction when he hears the statement from the NCAA about the non-goaltending call. #Northwesternpic.twitter.com/2pt4fvZxvv— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) March 19, 2017
Yep, thatâs this tournamentâs viral press conference moment. GIF that into eternity.
After the statement from the NCAA, Collins offered these thoughts from the dais: âI guess with the statement from the NCAA, Iâm not sure what all that means. All I know is Iâm flying home. But itâs nice. Thank you for the statement. Appreciate it. It should have been a three-point game. And the way we fought it was great. And we fought to the very end. We just came up a little bit too short. And the story of the game was the first half. Itâs hard to come back from 22 points, especially against a great team like Gonzaga.â
Itâs really unfortunate to have a game turn like this. The energy in Salt Lake City was pulsating through my TV screen. I thought this was even more gripping than the Villanova-Wisconsin game, in part because the wave was cresting for Northwestern. It was an incredible game, and Gonzaga might have been headed to an all-time meltdown. Would the Zags have lost? Not necessarily, but Northwesternâs push was chopped by the missed call and ensuing, deserved technical foul. We canât ever get through a tournament without some sort of officiating controversy.
âI mean it would have been a three-point game,â Collins said. âWe had all of the momentum. The guy puts his hand through the rim. Itâs a very easy call, in my opinion. But itâs an honest mistake. Referees are human beings, theyâre here for a reason, because theyâre outstanding officials. They made the calls. We have to live with them. Do me in my heart think if Derek gets that call and we cut it to three, we have a great chance to win? Yes, I believe we had a great chance to win if the correct call was made.â
Northwesternâs unforgettable season ends with a sting of doubt, as the programâs first NCAA Tournament appearance is tied to a missed call and a wonder of what could have been had the game gone to 63-60 instead of 65-58.