The Northeastern Conference is launching an investigation into a brawl that occurred in the stands of Tuesday's conference tournament championship game between Bryant and Wagner, leading to one arrest.
"I'm disgusted that on a day we were all here to celebrate NEC men's basketball, it was marred by the actions of supporters who didn't respect the game and the hard work these two teams put forth to get to the championship," said NEC commissioner Noreen Morris in a statement Wednesday. "Athletic competition should bring out the best in us. Sadly, we didn't see that last night.
"We will conduct a thorough investigation of last night's incredibly disappointing events and begin an immediate review of our game management policies to address this type of unruly and disrespectful fan behavior."
Play was suspended for more than 30 minutes late in the second half of Tuesday night's NEC Tournament championship game after a brawl between fans broke out in the stands at Bryant's Chace Athletic Center. The fight included punches being thrown and at least one drink being weaponized.
Both teams were sent to their respective locker rooms while police and officials sorted out the situation and at least one fan was escorted out of the building before play was resumed and No. 1 seed Bryant finished its 70-43 blowout victory over No. 2 seed Wagner to earn a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Bryant was firmly in control 68-32 with 4:37 remaining in the game, when play was stopped due to the fight in the stands behind the Wagner bench. No players were involved, but Wagner's Will Martin was ejected for leaving the bench and trying to charge into the stands. He was held back by teammates and the situation deescalated fairly quickly after players noticed what was going on.
WHOA pic.twitter.com/yyUJ6meuT0— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 9, 2022
unreal stuff pic.twitter.com/KL1FOLedXS— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 9, 2022
The teams kept it civil when returning to the court, but with 2.6 seconds remaining, officials declared the game over so the court could clear for Bryant fans to storm it.
Bryant won the regular season by one game over Wagner and won 13 of its final 14 games to close the regular season. As the No. 1 seed in the NEC Tournament, it got a scare in the semifinals against Mount St. Mary's, escaping with a 70-69 win on Saturday, but sent a statement with the win and punched its first-ever ticket to the Big Dance at the Division I level.