The Charlotte 49ers beat the Richmond Spiders, 68-63, on Thursday in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament, a game that ended with the 49ers making eight free throws in the final 4.7 seconds of regulation.
The explanation for those eight freebies is as byzantine as it is infuriating.
If you want a head start, you can place your hands on either side of your face...now.
We start with 5.9 seconds remaining in the game and Richmond leading, 63-60. Charlotte inbounds the ball to sophomore guard Pierria Henry. Instead of allowing Charlotte a chance to tie the game with a three, Richmond elects to foul Henry at midcourt with 4.7 seconds remaining.
Henry goes to the line for the front end of a one-and-one. As the shot is released, Richmond forward Derrick Williams (6'6", 285) engages Charlotte forward Willie Clayton (6'8", 236) in a battle for the rebound.
The shot falls, but not before Clayton wraps his hand around Williams' head and Williams responds by warding Clayton off.
Basically, the pair were fighting for position, a sequence that would have gone totally unnoticed except that Clayton decided to throw his head backwards and stumble to the floor.
The refs whistle Williams—who, remember, has 50 pounds on Clayton—for a technical foul.
Charlotte now gets two more free throws in addition to the second free throw it was already due on the back end of the one-and-one.
Henry makes all three free throws. Charlotte is now ahead, 64-63, thanks to a four-free-throw possession.
Charlotte also gets the ball back because of the technical infraction. The 49ers inbound to Henry at half court.
Richmond, now forced to foul, hacks Henry with 2.8 seconds left.
As the foul occurs, Henry launches one of those hey-if-they'll-give-it-to-me three-point attempts (a la Russell Westbrook). And guess what? The refs actually give it to him, claiming he was fouled in the act and consequently awarding him three free throws.
At this point, Richmond coach Chris Mooney justifiably loses his lunch and goes off on the officials. They respond by assessing the coach two technical fouls and ejecting him from the game.
The sum total of Richmond's transgressions results in Henry shooting seven more free throws. He makes four of them. Charlotte now leads, 68-63.
The game ends 2.8 seconds later.
Richmond (18-14, 8-8) has three seniors on its roster: Jonathan Benjamin, Greg Robbins and Darien Brothers (a Richmond native). They will never play another meaningful basketball game in their college careers.
A storyline like this is almost too outrageous for a movie script.
Unless, you know, that movie was called Barclays Center Cluster**** and starred Warren Beatty as a renegade gambler hellbent on corrupting society's sense of propriety.
This is what officiating looks like on ego pills.
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