John Hughes. It's not often that a referee becomes the story in a college basketball game. In fact, it's often said that if you don't notice the refs, that means they're doing a good job. But John Hughes was THE story in PC's heartbreaking 77-74 loss to Seton Hall, and rest assured, all of the 8,207 in attendance certainly noticed him.
Hughes was bad throughout the ballgame, but two calls stick out in particular, and those calls went a long way towards determining a winner and a loser in this game.
In the first half, the Friars rode a determined effort to a steady two to five point lead over the Pirates. With PC up and momentum turning their way, Sharaud Curry poked the ball loose near midcourt from Donald Copeland, and as Curry raced past Copeland for the ball and what would have been an easy layup, Copeland grabbed Curry's shirt out in the open floor and held him back, enabling Seton Hall to recover, right in front of Hughes.
When no foul was called, Tim Welsh exploded. Hughes then further compounded his error by quickly slapping Welsh with a technical. When Copeland knocked down two free throws, the Hall had a four point swing.
PC managed a 37-32 halftime lead, despite the fact that Donnie McGrath struggled to even catch the ball against Seton Hall's clutching, grabbing defense. The Hall raced out of the gate in the second half and assumed a 39-37 lead before a Welsh timeout calmed the troops. PC regathered themselves and forged a two point lead with ten minutes to go when disaster, in the form of John Hughes, struck again.
First, Copeland grabbed Curry in an attempt to prevent him from receiving an inbounds pass, and when Curry pushed off to get away, referee John Cahill whistled Curry for his third foul. After stealing the Pirates inbound pass, Curry raced to the basket with Copeland on his hip for a driving layup… and Hughes waved off the bucket and called Curry for a charge, resulting in his fourth foul and a trip to the bench. Instead of being up four with a chance to go up five, PC's lead remained two and saw it's offense bog down with Curry on the bench.
By the time Curry returned, the Friars were down by five, with the Hall carving up PC's zone. With Curry back, McGrath drove to the hoop for two pretty layups and an alley-oop to Geoff McDermott led PC's comeback. PC built a 69-65 lead but couldn't hold on as Copeland nailed a three, and then missed a layup… however, McDermott fell while rebounding, allowing Copeland an easy putback.
After a Charles Burch three for a 72-70 lead, Jamar Nutter scored on a three point play and Copeland hit a tough layup in traffic for a 75-74 Seton Hall lead. McDermott drove the lane and fouled out Kelli Whitney with forty-six seconds left, but missed both free throws. After Nutter was called for traveling, Curry drove the lane and floated a six footer towards the basket, which went in… and popped out. In the rebounding action, Herbert Hill, who had played well with 14 points and 7 rebounds, fouled out on another Hughes' whistle, and after two more Hall free throws, a last second three pointer by Curry was off the mark.
While the Friars shot themselves in the foot with 12-22 free throw shooting and 23 turnovers, there's no doubt to any who witnessed it, that John Hughes had a profound effect in the outcome of this game. He was the story. That should never happen.
TIM WELSH PRESS CONFERENCE REMARKS
"Basically the game came down to us not being able to get stops when we needed them. When we did get to the free throw line, which was a miracle, we didn't make the free throws."
"We got a great look at the end. We had no timeouts left, so we ran motion and Sharaud got into the lane, he saw the gap and took it, but it hit the rim. Then, somehow in the middle of six guys, Herb gets called for the foul… naturally."
"All I ask of everyone who comes to work here is consistency. There was inconsistency in the air tonight, let's put it that way. You can assume who I'm talking about. Maybe the players were inconsistent, maybe the coaches were inconsistent, maybe the media was inconsistent, maybe the band was inconsistent. I'll let you draw your own conclusions."
"I saw him grab his shirt, that's why I argued. Did you guys see that? Everyone in the building saw it except for one guy. I get a technical for telling the truth. Ridiculous. That cost us four points. I didn't blow the play, but I get the technical."
"We switched to man because they were scoring on every possession. We couldn't get any stops. You had to change something."
"The key play was when Sharaud got his fourth… he goes in for a layup and a guy undercuts him. They send the best player on the floor to the bench and we go down six."
"When you're in a zone, and the fouls are 10-2 against you, how can you press? We got into deep foul trouble and the way they're calling the game, I can't be in a press. When we did screen for Donnie, they called illegal screens."
"I was upset that we came out of the lockerroom and gave up seven straight points. We kind of controlled the first half, had a five point lead, but we gave them life. Sometimes our best offensive players aren't our best defensive players."
Friars Fall to Hall, Officials
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