And I don’t blame them. Imagine losing a game at the end in part because the referees made a wrong call on a key out-of-bounds play because the referee was ducking away to avoid getting hit with the ball. That, quite simply, is painful.
Here’s how SB Nation’s Louisville blog Card Chronicle broke down that play.
On the other end, Reggie Delk attempts a three-pointer from the corner and is knocked to the ground. In a game where 46 fouls were called and the home team shot 35 free-throws, no whistle was blown. Delk’s shot bounces off the rim and appears to be knocked out-of-bounds by West Virginia’s Ebanks. The ball is not awarded to Louisville right away, however, because referee Mike Kitts was ducking to (apparently) avoid potentially being hit with the ball instead of watching the action of the floor, a move which goes against every training basketball officials on any level receive.
Instead of deferring to the possession arrow (which belonged to Louisville), the officials head to the scorer’s table to review the play, blatantly disregarding the officials’ rule book.
The officials review the tape and somehow find conclusive evidence that the ball was last touched by a Louisville player. West Virginia makes two free-throws and the Cardinals miss a three-point attempt at the buzzer.
The natural reaction by West Virginia fans is that the Cardinals should have put the game away when they had the chance instead of letting West Virginia come back down the stretch. That’s true. But that doesn’t take away from the egregious mistake the referees made here.
Card Chronicle’s Mike Rutherford later writes that this is the angriest he’s ever been after a loss. With Louisville’s NCAA Tournament hopes on life support, I don’t blame him.