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Controversy taints Red Storm win

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No. 9 UConn 97 No. 1 Pitt No. 2 Notre Dame No. 10 'Nova 69
No. 9 UConn 79 noon, ESPN 7, ESPN No. 15 USF 61
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NEW YORK — Rutgers coach Mike Rice tried to restrain himself, but he couldn't help but talk about a botched call at the end of the Scarlet Knights' 65-63 loss to fifth-seeded St. John's on Wednesday afternoon in the Big East tournament.

In a back-and-forth finish in the second-round game, Rutgers threw an inbounds pass with 4.9 seconds left. Replays showed that the Red Storm's Justin Brownlee stepped out of bounds with a loose ball with 1.7 seconds left, but no call was made. Rice initially disputed what he believed was a foul on the receiving end of the long pass, but officials left the court without reviewing the play.

"Was there a mistake made (by the officials)? I saw it on YouTube," Rice said. "There was a mistake made. There's no question. I'm sure they will admit it. I made several mistakes. My players made several mistakes. … We have the greatest officials in America. … There's going to be blood coming through my tongue right now, but it's what it is. We're going to control how we respond."

In a statement, the Big East acknowledged that two officiating errors occurred that "should have caused the game clock to stop and a change of possession to occur." Neither error is reviewable or correctable by NCAA rules, commissioner John Marinatto said in the statement.

"Not officiating to the end of a game is unacceptable," John Adams, who selects and manages the 98 officials for the NCAA Tournament, told, referring to the three-man crew of Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Earl Walton.

The officiating took away from a wild finish. Rutgers took a 61-60 lead on Mike Coburn's three-point play with 57 seconds left, but St. John's (21-10) hit four free throws to lead 64-61 with 17 seconds left. St. John's immediately fouled Coburn, who hit both free throws, then the Red Storm turned it over on an inbounds pass with 14.3 seconds left.

Rutgers (15-17) couldn't convert, but St. John's hit just 1 of 3 free-throw attempts, giving the Knights a chance to win.

NO. 21 UCONN 79, No. 22 G'tOWN 62: Villanova isn't the only Big East team stumbling toward the NCAA Tournament. Georgetown dropped its fourth straight game since losing point guard Chris Wright to a wrist injury.

The fourth-seeded Hoyas (21-10) had 16 turnovers and were unable to contain guard Kemba Walker, who had 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting for fifth-seeded Connecticut (23-9).

"We miss Chris, absolutely … in every way," coach John Thompson III said. "That being said, the group that's playing right now that played (Wednesday) has to be better. Better than we've been showing."

MARQUETTE 67, NO. 20 W. VA. 61: Darius Johnson-Odom had 11 points, including two big 3-pointers in the final minutes for the 11th-seeded Golden Eagles (20-13). The sixth-seeded Mountaineers (20-11) were the third straight defending Big East champion to lose in the first game the next year.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Controversy taints Red Storm win 03/09/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011 12:09am]
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