By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
Under normal circumstances, the buzz following Saturday afternoon’s St. Bonaventure-VCU game would be about Bona guard Matt Mobley’s incredible 34-point performance and game-winning three-pointer. Bonaventure would have entered a four-way tie for second in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
However, the circumstances surrounding the game’s conclusion were anything but ordinary, as Bona’s big victory became an 83-77 loss, due to its student section and a little-known NCAA rule.
Everything was working for Mobley, even as his teammates struggled to get going offensively. The junior made nine three-pointers, a school record. He also grabbed seven rebounds and swiped three steals, team-highs.
The would-be game-winner was another incredible shot in a day chock full of them by the Worchester, Mass. native. He caught the Jaylen Adams inbounds pass, juked to his left as an attempt to evade Rams guard Jonathan Williams, stepped back and fired the shot, which caught nothing but net. 67-66 Bonnies.
Pandemonium resulted as the clock, which was at 0.4 seconds, hit zero, the light on the basket came on and the students rushed the court to celebrate with the team.
The officials went to the scorer’s table to review if time expired and, if not, how much time was on the clock. Public address announcer Adam Bennett instructed fans that the game was in an officials’ review and to leave the court. After a couple minutes, the fans were off the court, returning to the stands or their spot behind press row.
As that process concluded, the officials talked to Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt and VCU coach Will Wade by the scorer’s table. The details of that conversation weren’t pleasant for Bona Nation.
After review, the officials determined that the clock should be reset to 0.5 seconds. But the big result of the review was a technical foul being issued to Bonaventure due to the court storm being deemed premature and in violation of rule 10, section 2, article 8 d of the NCAA rule book.
The rule states that a technical foul shot should be awarded for “delaying the game by preventing the ball from being promptly made live or by preventing continuous play… In such a case, when the delay does not interfere with play, it shall be ignored.”
VCU did not inbound the ball after Mobley’s shot; an SBU security guard went to grab the ball, after which the clock ran and time expired.
Rams guard JeQuan Lewis swished the technical free throw, sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, VCU took full advantage of its second chance, outscoring Bona 17-11 and improving to 18-5, 8-2 in the A-10. After defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory, the Bonnies fell to 14-8, 6-4 in the league.
College hoops reporter Seth Davis posted the afore-mentioned rule on Twitter, saying, “Refs blew it.” The Atlantic 10 disagreed, making an official statement where it said, “The decision to assess a one-shot technical foul at the end of the VCU-St. Bonaventure game was a correct call. The conference office has reviewed the end of the game, and spoken to the Atlantic 10 Coordinator of Officiating, who verified that it was in fact the correct call.”
Correct call or not, the result was heartbreak for the Bonnies.
“I’m not sure what the protocol is for us with security so the students don’t storm the court,” Schmidt said. “We had two timeouts, I called two timeouts. That’s two minutes where maybe we make an announcement, tell the crowd if you storm the court, it’s a technical foul, it may lose the game. That’s probably what should’ve happened.
“I don’t blame the students, I blame whatever protocol or whatever it is, we didn’t have. To have our guys lose that way is a travesty. That’s a game they can remember the rest of their life. Matt’s shot, the way he played, it shouldn’t come down to that. But it did, and we’ve gotta move on.”
Mobley, after his record-breaking day and a clutch moment that quieted those who said he’d never have one of those moments his predecessor Marcus Posley had, was dejected afterwards.
“Yeah, it was obviously disappointing,” Mobley said. “We were high as possible, we thought we stole one, we thought we had a win… it is what it is.”