Looking to complete the comeback, the Wildcats got an offensive rebound and looked to lay the ball in. Gonzaga forward Zach Collins blocked the attempt – but did so by sticking his hand through the rim, which should be a goaltending violation. The officials missed the call, and the NCAA issued the following statement after the game:
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.
|Chris Collins received a technical foul during the second half of Saturday's game against Gonzaga. NCAA|
Second-half slump almost dooms No. 1 seed Gonzaga in second round
SALT LAKE CITY -- After a slow start in Gonzaga's first-round win over South Dakota State, it was the second half that put the Zags on their heels in a 79-73 win over Northwestern in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The Zags had gone into the half with a seemingly safe 18-point lead after dominating the first 20 minutes, making Northwestern's Cinderella story look as though it was ready to close its final chapter. But Gonzaga encountered a second-half Northwestern team that took advantage of nearly every Bulldog mistake and miscue, clawing its way back to within six with a minute and a half to go.
The team that had scored seven points off Northwestern turnovers in the first half was now the team that had turned over the ball 11 times (and allowed the Wildcats to score 17 points off those turnovers). The Bulldogs, which had suffocated Northwestern with their defense and allowed just 30 percent shooting from the floor, had now allowed the Wildcats to outscore them by 12 in the second half.
Gonzaga allowed Northwestern to hang around for too long -- a feeling that looked familiar to anyone who watched No. 1 seed Villanova lose to 8-seed Wisconsin early on Saturday in the East Region. The Bulldogs ultimately began to look like themselves from the free throw line, where they sank 7 of 10 free throws in the final 40 seconds. Those might not have been the most important free throws for Gonzaga, though.
Prior to that, Gonzaga received two key free throws as result of a technical on Northwestern coach Chris Collins, who argued that a blocked shot should've been goaltending with five minutes left in the game, a belief that was supported by replays of a Gonzaga defender putting his hand through the net on a Dererk Pardon dunk attempt. The NCAA admitted after the game that the officials got the call wrong on the blocked shot.
Collins' technical gave the Zags two free throws and the ball, resulting in a four-point swing late in the game that helped Gonzaga withstand Northwestern's attempted comeback.
Gonzaga was led by Nigel Williams-Goss, who finished with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Jordan Mathews and Zach Collins both added 14 points.
2017 March Madness: NCAA admits huge missed call in Gonzaga-Northwestern
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.
Gonzaga’s Zach Collins illegally blocked a shot by NU’s Derek Pardon. Collins’ hand was inside the rim, which is a no-no.
From the NCAA:
“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.”
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.
“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,” the NCAA’s 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 Gonzaga’s 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 it’s also frustrating to see the officials miss a call like this. Zach Collins’ hand slips up through the netting. This wasn’t close.
Take a closer look. Tough for viewers to see in real time, but the officials need to be on the ball with this.
Yep, that’s this tournament’s viral press conference moment. GIF that into eternity.
After the statement from the NCAA, Collins offered these thoughts from the dais: “I guess with the statement from the NCAA, I’m not sure what all that means. All I know is I’m flying home. But it’s 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. It’s hard to come back from 22 points, especially against a great team like Gonzaga.”
It’s 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 Northwestern’s push was chopped by the missed call and ensuing, deserved technical foul. We can’t ever get through a tournament without some sort of officiating controversy.
“I mean it would have been a three-point game,” Collins said. “We had all of the momentum. The guy puts his hand through the rim. It’s a very easy call, in my opinion. But it’s an honest mistake. Referees are human beings, they’re here for a reason, because they’re 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.”
Northwestern’s unforgettable season ends with a sting of doubt, as the program’s 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.