This week is the final chance for teams around the country to make a final push for spots in the NCAA Tournament and the first week where fans get to see that magic that has become synonymous with the month of March. In a time like this where so much is at stake, it would make sense that tempers would run high in a game where teams’ entire seasons are on the line, especially in the mid-major tournaments. It is here that these smaller schools have their chance to play their way onto the greatest stage in college basketball. Even if a team has underperformed or they come from a very small conference, everyone gets the same opportunity. Most people did not tune into the Richmond vs. Charlotte game. I mean a first round match-up in the A-10 Tournament between the eight and nine seed in the conference, doesn’t grab the attention of a lot of fans, but this game wasn’t like any game I have ever seen before.
Photo Credit: COREY SIPKIN/ NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
It all starts with Richmond holding a 63-60 lead with the clock winding down. Richmond coach Chris Mooney makes the decision that he doesn’t want Charlotte to tie the game with a trifecta, so he decides to foul Pierria Henry before he is able to shoot a three. This sends Henry to the line with 4.7 seconds to go in the game. Now normally in a situation like this Henry would go to the free-throw line, take his free-throws, and then Richmond would get the ball back and try to run out the rest of the clock. However after Henry made his first free throw, things got interesting as Derrick Williams and Willie Clayton became tangled up. Williams then shoved Clayton and that resulted in a technical foul. Now Charlotte had two additional free throws to add onto the one Henry had to shoot from the original foul, and on top of all that Charlotte would get the ball back. Henry then went onto make the next three free-throws giving Charlotte a 64-63 lead. Now the tables had completely turned, and Richmond would be forced to foul to try and get the ball back. Charlotte then inbounds the ball to Henry who is then immediately fouled, but while he is being fouled, he heaves a shot towards the basket causing the referee to determine the foul as a shooting foul. The result of this is three additional free-throws and sending Richmond coach Chris Mooney into a tirade. Mooney then storms over to give the official a piece of his mind, and is then slapped with a double-technical awarding four more free-throws to Charlotte. After the dust has been settled, Henry ends up shooting eleven free-throws in the final 4.7 seconds of the game, of which he makes eight of them. The game goes from Charlotte being down three and facing their season coming to an end, to getting eleven free throws and winning the game.
The question still remains was this the right call? In my opinion, the answer is no. In a game that means so much, where teams are fighting for the ability to make it to the NCAA Tournament, it was not right for the officials to insert themselves and decide the outcome of the game. The original technical was the right call. Williams shoved Clayton and it was an easy call to make. However, I disagree with the shooting foul and the two technical called on the Richmond coach. The shooting foul should have been called on-the-floor because the contact was made before Henry was able to get his shot off. As far as the two technical were concerned the referees had to understand the situation. Coach Mooney had just seen his season go up in flames, when only a few plays earlier it looked like his team was going to win the game. The official had to understand that Richmond’s season had just ended right before their coach’s eyes, so of course he was going to be frustrated with the call. The official just had to let it go and not compound the situation by doling out two more technicals.
This game definitely was one of the most interesting that I have ever seen. It just goes to show how quickly the tides can turn in a basketball game, especially at this time of year. At the end of the day I think the officials mishandled the situation. Eleven free throws in the final 4.7 seconds of the game is outrageous, and it cost Richmond their season. Games like these are meant to be decided by the players, and not by a group of officials inserting themselves into the game.