St. John's Bounces Rutgers Amid Ref Errors

NEW YORK -- Controversy reigned as Rutgers was knocked out of the Big East tournament by St. John's 65-63 in the second round Wednesday, but only after television replays showed a pair of missed calls that would have given Rutgers the ball with 1.7 seconds left. That came on the heels of two other non-foul calls going against Rutgers in the last 10 seconds. The conference admitted two blown calls.

NEW YORK – Rutgers went down with a fight, which made first-year coach Mike Rice proud.

But the Scarlet Knights also went out in a controversy-filled, non-called finish that left them wanting more, and believing they deserved more.

In the end, there was more talk about what didn't get called than fifth-seeded St. John's surviving against No. 13 seed Rutgers 65-63 at Madison Square Garden in Tuesday's second round of the Big East tournament.

Rutgers (15-17) ends the season with a losing record, but also with a what-coulda-been view after a quartet of calls went against the Scarlet Knights in the final 10 seconds.

"Was there a mistake made," Rice said. "I saw it on youtube. I made several mistakes, my players made several mistakes …We have the greatest officials in America."

Afterward, the Big East issued a statement acknowledging a pair of mistakes, including missing a traveling call and for Justin Brownlee being out-of-bounds with 1.7 seconds left. Rutgers guard Mike Coburn said he tried to get the attention of the officials.

"The refs' job after the game is to clear the court, and that's exactly what they did," Coburn said. "It happens. There was no acknowledgement. They left the court."

It began when senior guard Mike Coburn drove the lane with 10 seconds left and despite a lot of contact, a foul wasn't called.

Following a missed free throw by St. John's Justin Brownlee, Jonathan Mitchell went for the rebound and appeared to be pushed from behind as the ball went out-of-bounds off his hand, which gave the Red Storm (21-10) the ball again.

D.J. Kennedy missed the first and made the second free throw with 4.9 seconds left to give St. John's a 65-63 lead. Rather than attempt a length-of-court drive, Rutgers opted for a long pass to center Gilvydas Biruta. He was unable to catch the ball within traffic atop the 3-point arc, and Brownlee came up with it.

The clock ran out, but replays showed Brownlee first traveled, then was out-of-bounds with 1.7 seconds remaining, which would have given the Scarlet Knights another chance to tie or take the lead.

"You have no idea how bad it hurts," Beatty said. "I could see if we were already down 20 and just laid down and gave them the game. We were right there. Two seconds. Give us another possession. You never know what happens."

The loss was bitter, especially for the seniors.

James Beatty hit a trio of big 3-pointers to Rutgers in the game in the second half and Coburn scored five points in the final minute, including a lay-in to give Rutgers a 61-60 lead with 58 seconds to play.

"Right now I feel empty," Rutgers wing Dane Miller said. "We should have won the game."

St. John's Dwight Hardy made a pair of free throws with 38 seconds left to put St. John's ahead, and Sean Evans' two free throws with 18 seconds left put the Red Storm ahead 64-61 before the mayhem ensued.

"I had a clear view of everything that happened," Mitchell said. "I thought (Biruta) did (get fouled). There were two guys that jumped with him, and I know he was in the middle of it. I don't think we were playing football today. I think he got fouled, but the ref didn't call it."

Mitchell, who led Rutgers is scoring this season, leaves Rutgers after scoring eight points in his finale.

"It's a judgment call," Rice said. "The block on Gil, Mike (Coburn's) incredible soiree to the hoop, the end where I thought that the ball was out of play …I saw the difference, but I'm not a very good referee."

Scarlet Report Top Stories