Officials’ miscues help Storm advance past Rutgers

When Rutgers inbounded the ball with five seconds left, it looked like the key question would be why the Scarlet Knights threw a lob to mid-court when they had time to drive the length of the hardwood.

After Gilvydas Biruta got hacked going up for the pass, St. John’s forward Justin Brownlee came away with the ball and thought the game was over.  The problem? It wasn’t. He traveled with the ball before stepping out of bounds with 1.6 seconds left.  He then tossed the ball into the crowd.  But it didn’t seem to matter to the officials.

Both Jim Burr and Tim Higgins left the court before either St. John’s or Rutgers.  And while Rutgers head coach Mike Rice pleaded for a foul on Biruta, forward Robert Lumpkins asked Higgins for a review after having seen Brownlee step out of bounds right in front of him.  Higgins just turned and walked towards the tunnel.

Not only should Rutgers have been given a chance with 1.6 seconds left, they should have gone to the line for a technical foul after Brownlee tossed the ball into the stands.  The Scarlet Knights would have been given the opportunity to tie the game at the line and then potentially win it on the ensuing possession.

In a Big East season that has been mired by bad officiating, how the end of this game was not reviewable is offensive.  The entire last minute of this game lacked NCAA-level officiating. According to the Big East:

“The Big East Conference acknowledges that two separate officiating errors occurred at the conclusion of the St. John’s vs. Rutgers game. Both missed violations should have caused the game clock to stop and a change of possession to occur prior to the end of the game. Neither error is reviewable or correctable under NCAA playing rules.”

Andy Katz of spoke with John Adams, head of NCAA officiating and in charge of all 98 officials managing the NCAA tournament. According to Adams, the officiating at the end of this game was “unacceptable.”  It stands to reason Burr and Higgins will not officiate the remainder of the Big East Tournament.

With St. John’s 65-63 controversial win over Rutgers, the Red Storm advance to play Syracuse at 2 p.m. ET tomorrow on ESPN.

Watch the end of the game: