With less than two and a half minutes remaining, both teams saw debatable calls made against them with the Hawks being the game’s biggest victim.
With Saint Joseph’s leading 58-56, the team appeared to be called for a shot clock violation with 2:28 left on the clock. With the shot clock ticking down to its final seconds, Villanova’s Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu had Saint Joseph’s Chris Wilson trapped with the ball and nowhere to go. Arcidiacono then knocked the ball out of Wilson’s hands, attempting to grab it only for it to roll back to Wilson who shot the ball as the shot clock buzzer sounded.
After the shot clock violation, officials gathered and determined that Arcidiacono had possession of the ball, resulting in it still being Saint Joseph’s possession as the shot clock should have reset.
However, the replay showed a different story.
Arcidiacono in no way, shape or form had possession of the ball. He knocked it out of Wilson’s hands but struggled to control the bouncing ball before it ultimately bounced right back to Wilson. Somehow the officials determined that the Villanova freshman was dribbling the ball despite chasing after it wildly and barely even touching it as he knocked it further away from himself.
The Hawks inbounded the ball and quickly hit a three-pointer, stretching their lead to 61-56.
The game’s second blunder by the officials surfaced after Villanova shook-off the first blown call, battling back to hold a 63-61 lead with 3.6 seconds remaining. Saint Joseph’s Halil Kanacevic, being guarded by Villanova’s Maurice Sutton, attempted to inbound the ball for a chance to tie the game deep in Wildcats territory. Kanacevic’s pass attempt hit the defending Sutton and appeared to bounce back and hit Kanacevic, who was still standing out of bounds making it Villanova ball. The Wildcats inbounded and were quickly fouled, eventually sealing the game with free throws for a 65-61 victory.
Once again replayed showed a different story than what the officials saw on the court.
The ball did touch Kanacevic after hitting Sutton on the inbounds attempt, only it do so after it had already bounced out of bounds. Somehow the official standing seven feet away missed the ball bounce on the floor then come back up and strike Kanacevic’s shin. What should have been Hawks ball with three seconds remaining and another chance to tie or potentially win, became the game clinching play for the Wildcats.
It’s understandable officials make mistakes, nobody is perfect. Even the first blown call is a tough one to make in real time given the fast pace game can make things appear what they might not actually be. However, there is no excuse what-so-ever for an official that close to the play to miss the bounce off the out of bounds floor before striking Kanacevic’s shin.
It’s hard to say a team that gave up a 9-0 run to finish the game got screwed, but surely Saint Joseph’s deserved better than this.