NCAA admits refs blew game-changing call in Northwestern's loss to top-seeded Gonzaga

Northwestern’s run in the NCAA Tournament came to an abrupt halt against top-seeded Gonzaga when the Wildcats’ second-half rally came up short. 

The rally ended on a blocked shot that not only cost Northwestern two points, but it also led to a technical foul on head coach Chris Collins.

After the game, the NCAA admitted that the refs blew the call, saying it should have been ruled goaltending and two points for Northwestern.

After Northwestern trailed by 18 at the half and were still down by 18 with 12 minutes to play, they made a furious rally, cutting the lead to five with under six minutes to go. But just when it looked like they were going to cut the lead even further, Derek Pardon’s dunk attempt was blocked by Zach Collins.

Collins went berserk, running on to the court and drawing a technical foul.

It turns out he had a legitimate complaint. When the replays were shown, it was clear that Collins had reached up through the rim to block the shot.

That’s a no-no.

After the game, the NCAA issued a statement confirming what everybody saw, that the refs blew the crucial call.

With 4:57 remaining in this evening’s 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 Men’s 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.
Subsequently, 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.

Of course, the statement is of little consolation to the Northwestern team. At the same time, the technical foul was deserved, missed call or not.

Still, it is hard to not wonder what the outcome might have been if Northwestern had been given two points instead of giving two free throws to Gonzaga.

We’ll never know.

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