Big East Tournament: Refs Miss Obvious Calls, Red Storm Win in Dramatic Fashion

Ezra AmacherContributor IIIMarch 9, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30:  Head coach of the St. John's Red Storm Steve Lavin watches on against the Duke Blue Devils  at Madison Square Garden on January 30, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

When St. John's Dwight Hardy possibly stepped on the baseline while scoring the winning basket for the Red Storm against Pittsburgh on February 19, many basketball fans around the country thought that Hardy's foot was out of bounds and that the basket should not have counted.

Those fans, particularly the ones that cheer on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, have a lot more to gripe about after the Red Storm won another controversial game at Madison Square Garden, this one being more important considering it took place in the Big East Tournament.

Today, the controversy was caused by the referees missing two blatant calls in the final seconds of St. John's 65-63 victory over Rutgers. 

Following a made free throw by D.J. Kennedy that pushed the Red Storms' lead to two points with only five seconds remaining in the game, Justin Brownlee of St. John's stole an in-bounds pass that bounced off a couple players near mid-court before landing in Brownlee's hands.

From there, Brownlee dribbled once before taking three steps and walking out of bounds while throwing the basketball in celebration.

In fact, he nearly ran into his coach Steve Lavin, who already was on his way to shake hands with Rugters' head coach, Mike Rice.

What Brownlee and apparently the refs didn't realize was that Brownlee had traveled with around two seconds remaining on the clock and his foot was clearly out of bounds with 1.7 seconds still left in the game.

The refs walked off the court before the Rutgers staff and players had a chance to protest the no-call, and that was it. Rutgers' season had ended while St. John's will get to continue in the Big East Tournament.

Within 40 minutes of the completion of the game, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto publicly admitted that there were two seperate errors made by the veteran officiating crew in the closing seconds of the game.

Even if Rutgers was able to get the ball back, there is no saying whether or not Rutgers would have tied or won the game with only a few seconds left on the clock. More than likely, it would have taken a miracle shot for the heavy underdog Scarlet Knights to advance in the tournament and extend their season.

The final result of this game might have been the same if Rutgers had gotten one last chance to score, but at least it would have prevented a lot more controversy and negative attention towards the Big East and their officials.