Brandon Hawkins' jump shot with 38 seconds remaining in regulation was first ruled a three-pointer that gave the Spartans a one-point lead. Six seconds later, Fresno State's assistant, David Fizdale, argued the shot was a two pointer, and the officials halted play and gathered around a television monitor on the official scorer's table.
The basket was changed to a two-pointer and the Spartans went on to lose to the Bulldogs 74-70 in double overtime in a Western Athletic Conference game at the Event Center on the SJSU campus.
An announced crowd of 2,644 was certainly stunned.
``I thought I had stepped back behind the line because it was a step-back shot,'' Hawkins said. ``It's sad, but they always say to make sure it's a three.''
San Jose State's Brett Lilly, with his only basket of the evening, made it 60-60 at the end of the first five-minute overtime.
But the Spartans (6-16, 3-10) missed their first nine shots of the second overtime, and thus the Bulldogs re-gained some lost momentum.
This was SJSU's ninth consecutive loss over fresno.
The Spartans might have pulled off a major upset of first-place Fresno State (19-5, 11-3), because Fresno's Rolando Todd missed a three-pointer from the corner at the buzzer to end regulation.
But Bulldogs Coach Ray Lopes said he would have called a different play if Hawkins' shot had counted for three.
``That's a first for me,'' said Coach Phil Johnson, who spent three seasons as a Chicago Bulls assistant before returning to SJSU to take over head-coaching duties. ``They must have changed the rule when I went to the NBA. I guess his foot was on the line. I still haven't seen the replay.''
Johnson said ``the first half is what cost us the ballgame'' and conceded he went too long with a strategy of slowing down the game and draining the shot clock. SJSU came out cold at the games tip-off, and put the Spartans down 35-17 with 1:51 to go in the first half. Baskets by Keith West and Bim Okunrinboye cut the margin to 35-22 at the break.
The Spartans never led in the game.
Fresno guard Travis DeManby was the first to call attention to Hawkins' foot being on the line. But, Lopes said, ``the officials just brushed him off'' during a timeout. Fresno State media information director Jake Bragonier heard Fresno radio analyst Dave Severns call it a two-pointer from his seat near the Bulldogs' bench.
Severns relayed the news to Andy Newman, the Bulldogs' director of basketball operations who sits on the bench, and the word was passed on to the officials.
In the end, it was the free-throw shooting in the second overtime of guard Terry Pettis, Fresno State's only freshman.
Pettis made 10 of 12 free throws in the second overtime and added a basket, outscoring the entire San Jose State team.
In more upbeat news:
• For the second consecutive season, the San Jose State men have ended one of the longest home winning streaks in the country.
Last season, the Spartans ended Iowa State's 39-game streak, which was the nation's second-longest. And last weekend, the Spartans ended Hawaii's 24-game streak, the nation's fourth-longest.
• San Jose State's Cricket Williams has established a school record with 300 career free throws, 10 better than Karen Mason. And Williams is only a junior.