Eastern Michigan University was on the receiving end of refereeing that some saw as questionable as it lost its third straight Mid-American Conference meeting.
Ball State University got away with an alleged travel, and no whistle was called in the last possession of the game when EMU and Ball State wrestled for possession of the ball.
“It was terrible,” EMU coach Rob Murphy said. “All three officials watched us get the rebound and consistently get fouled. They stole the ball by hitting Brandon’s hand and then Ethan had it and hit his hand.”
“The officials watched them travel, and they watched them shoot a three.”
“You don’t blame the game on officials,” Murphy said. “But in my 20 years of coaching, that’s the worst ignored call or sequence I’ve ever seen. Those guys did a bad job throughout the game, but in particularly on that play.”
EMU got off to a quick start, scoring four points and a steal in the first minute and a half of the game.
The Eagles then began to lose momentum quickly by having six turnovers in the next six minutes.
Ball State capitalized by scoring on those opportunities to take a 16-12 lead with ten minutes left in the half. But James Thompson’s aggressive play earned him a couple of trips to the free throw line to cut that lead to two.
The Eagles and Ball State went back and forth, with EMU taking the lead 36-34 with two minutes to go in the first half. That would be the first time the Eagles took the lead since they went 4-0 at the start of the game. Ball State hit a last second three to take a 37-36 lead at the end of the half.
The Eagles started the second half suffering on their transition defense as Ball State extended their lead to seven.
But Ty Toney went coast to coast for the basket and the foul. Toney hit his shot to cut the lead to four with fifteen minutes left in the second half.
Ball State slowly battled back to take a 68-66 lead with two and a half minutes left in the game. But James Thompson earned a trip to the free throw line and tied it up once again.
On the next possession, Thompson got a basket and a foul to tie the game at 71. Ball state put up a last second shot, but it wouldn’t go as the game entered overtime.
EMU scored the first points of overtime. Then multiple trips to the line put the score at 75-73, with EMU leading.
As overtime winded down, both teams earned multiple trips to the line.
With Ball State up 77-75, Brandon Nazione was fouled on his way to the hoop. He hit both of his shots to tie the game 77-77 with three seconds left. Ball State heaved up a prayer, but it would be unanswered as the game went to a second overtime.
The Eagles started the second overtime at the free throw line, hitting both shots to go up 79-77.
Mangum got the basket and the foul to go up 82-80. EMU took a timeout with under two minutes left in double overtime, then Ty Toney would get another basket and a foul to take a 87-85 lead.
The Eagles rebounded a missed shot, but Ball State got possession on a controversial steal and hit a three to win the game.
“It was unfair to end the game that way when all you had to do was blow a whistle, put us on the free throw line, we miss or make, and they get a chance to come back," Murphy said. “But for us to get a huge stop, something I’ve been talking about, and Brandon gets a backside rebound, and we get that call? It’s unfortunate. It’s unfair; and you hurt kids and you hurt a program because we play well enough to win the game. Those guys purposely ignored it."
Murphy thinks that this isn't an isolated incident and has been happening all year.
“The problem is there’s no accountability,” Murphy said. “It’s been going on all year. This was just blatant where I and the whole arena could see it.”