EMU-BSU Officials Suspended by MAC after Controversial Finish
In an official statement released by the Mid-American Conference, the officiating crew of the Eastern Michigan vs. Ball State University men’s basketball game will face a two-game suspension and will not be in consideration for the MAC Post-Season Tournament.
The suspensions come after a controversial finish in the second overtime of Saturday’s game, when Ball State sank a 3-point basket to beat EMU at the buzzer, 88-87. Several game infractions could have been called, but weren’t acknowledged by the officiating crew in the final few seconds of the game.
"The final play of the game was not handled appropriately by several officials and unfortunately took away from what was a highly competitive and entertaining game for the competing students and fans," MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement released by the conference on Sunday. "I, along with our membership, have higher expectations and as a result have directed our coordinator of men's basketball officials to take appropriate disciplinary action, including multiple-game suspensions."
Eastern Michigan led Ball State, 87-85 with 14 seconds remaining in the game when EMU’s Brandon Nazione grabbed the defensive rebound. Nazione then found himself trapped in the corner of the court by multiple Ball State defenders.
“All three officials watched us get the rebound and consistently get fouled,” said EMU head coach Rob Murphy. “They stole the ball by hitting Brandon’s hand and then Ethan had it, and [Ball State] hit his hand.”
BSU’s Ryan Weber stole the ball during the commotion with eight seconds left, and EMU’s Ethan Alvano enforced another tie-up with two Ball State players, fighting for the ball. With still no whistles blown, Weber would take seven steps with the ball in his possession before dribbling once and then passed the ball to teammate Francis Kiapway, who would make the game winning three-pointer.
“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 [officials] did a bad job throughout the game, but in particularly on that play."
Murphy continued his statement after 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."