With UConn up three, Marquette guard Junior Cadougan drained a 30-footer at the buzzer to force overtime Tuesday night in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles would go on to win 82-76 in the Big East opener.
Cadougan’s late-game heroics set up one of the most bizarre plays of the season. To start the extra frame, the referees had both teams lined up facing the wrong basket. UConn won the tip and scored 12 seconds the Huskies scored two points following a Marquette goaltending violation. It was then the referees realized the mistake, took two points off the board for the Huskies and awarded the ball to Marquette.
According to Don Amore of the Hartford Courant, UConn head coach Kevin Ollie isn’t using the referees’ mistake as an excuse for Tuesday’s loss.
“That play did not cost us the game,” Ollie told reporters following the game.
The bucket, which would have been awarded to Shabazz Napier, who tied a career high with 29 points, would have given UConn a 71-69 lead. After huddling together, the referees decided to remove the two points, which was the incorrect call according to the rules.
“When the official(s) permits a team to go in the wrong direction, and when the error is discovered all activity and time consumed shall count as though each team had gone in the proper direction.”
Following the game, Kevin Duffy of the Connecticut Post posted a statement from Big East official Karl Hess.
“The players went in the wrong direction tonight. Because we allowed that to happen, the only thing that was wrong is there was a goaltend on the play. We should have scored the goaltend and given Connecticut two points for that.”
“You have no team control after that, because you have a shot, so now you go to the alternating possession arrow. Because there is no team control at that point and then Marquette gets the ball and you head them all in the right direction.”
Tuesday’s sequence only adds to UConn’s suffering during the last few months. The Huskies aren’t eligible for postseason play and seem to be stuck in a Big East that will look more like Conference USA when all said and done.
For Marquette, Tuesday’s game provided the Golden Eagles with a key victory to start conference play. After a blowout loss to Florida and a bad one to Green Bay, Marquette can score another big win against Georgetown on Saturday at home.