BR-18 Sioux Falls appeared to have won their huge Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Northern Division showdown against BR-4 Winona State with a dramatic buzzer beater Friday night … until USF students rushed the court prematurely.
Sioux Falls (12-3, 6-3 NSIC North), who suffered a 91-52 loss at Winona State on Dec. 5, appeared to have won the game 59-58 after Taylor Varsho drained a deep three-pointer as time ran down. As the game appeared to have ended with the clock reading all zeros, the Cougars thought they avenged that Dec. 5 loss, and Cougar fans rushed the court to celebrate the win.
— Jody Noreen (@jodynoreen) January 9, 2016
Unfortunately for Sioux Falls fans, the celebration was short lived.
A video review by the officials, four-tenths of a second were left on the clock when the shot hit, meaning the game hadn’t ended and the Cougars bench was assessed a technical foul.
Alexis Foley, who split a pair of foul shots on the Warriors’ previous possession, redeemed herself by hitting both foul shots and Winona State (15-1, 8-1) escaped South Dakota with the win.
From the NCAA Women’s Basketball rulebook, Rule 10, Section 2, Article 8:
Team followers (fans, bands, cheerleaders and mascots associated with either team) shall not commit an unsportsmanlike act, including, but not limited to, the following:
a. Using artificial noisemakers while the game is in progress, except timeouts and intermissions (See Rule 5-14.17).
b. Using laser pointers.
c. Throwing debris on the court after officials’ jurisdiction has begun.
d. Delaying the game by preventing the ball from being promptly made live or by preventing continuous play, such as but not limited to, followers entering the playing court before the player activity has been terminated. When the delay does not interfere with play, it shall be ignored [emphasis added].
e. Using profanity or language that is abusive, vulgar or obscene.
Objectively speaking, a technical foul should not have been assessed as the scoreboard clock read “0.0 seconds” which would lead any reasonable fan to presume the game was over. Yet, when the officiating crew, led by referee Jon Garrow, added the four-tenths after the video review.
Despite the fact that the students were ushered off the court almost as quickly as they rushed it in the first place and despite the scoreboard showing ZERO SECONDS left on the clock, a technical foul was still assessed. Never mind that it was Garrow’s crew who initiated the delay by going to the replay monitor in the first place.
This analysis is not meant to take anything away from Winona State or their players. It is just an outside observation.
Nonetheless, the bizarre finish overshadowed an excellent, back-and-forth contest which saw 13 lead changes and 10 ties as neither team held a lead larger than nine points throughout the game.
Foley finished with a game high 25 points for the Warriors while Varsho led the Cougars with 17 points. Also worth noting: Winona State shot 13-of-17 from the foul line; Sioux Falls went 12-of-20 from the stripe.
UPDATE (Jan. 9 at 9:30 p.m. Central): Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Commissioner Erin Lind issued a statement regarding the conclusion of Friday's Winona State-Sioux Falls game.
As many of you are aware, we experienced an unfortunate situation Friday, January 8th during the Winona State University and the University of Sioux Falls women's basketball game where the outcome was, in part, affected by a misapplication of a rule. The NSIC Women’s Basketball officials are expected to have knowledge of all NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules and properly adjudicate them during a game. In this instance, it has been determined that this expectation was not met by the crew in charge of officiating.
It is important to state that overturning the result of the game cannot and will not be considered. However, in addition to receiving a letter of reprimand, each of the game officials involved have been suspended from four NSIC contests along with becoming ineligible to officiate the post season in the NSIC this year.
To my knowledge, this is the first time we have ever publicly discussed the suspension of an official or officials. Typically, when we have instances such as this, we handle it internally and deal directly with the institutions involved. To publicly discuss this unfortunate situation is not something we wanted to do, but in this instance, we felt this course of action was warranted in the spirit of transparency.
We want to assure you that the conference takes all officiating matters seriously and we appreciate your cooperation as we work to address issues as they arise. Although officiating is an extraordinarily difficult and often thankless job, our student athletes, coaches, and administrators deserve proper and consistent officiating.