Eagles stunned by Vandals in controversial finish


Bailey Monteith

The Eagles look on in shock as Idaho’s final 3-point basket is counted during Monday’s 75-74 loss. The final shot was released after the final horn had sounded, but the play clock was ruled to be started early and after review the 3-pointer was counted.

By Drew Lawson, Reporter

Freshman guard Grace Kirscher scored 19 points and a clutch layup, while senior guard Kapri Morrow added 17 points and 11 rebounds. That wasn’t enough for the EWU women’s basketball team to overcome a controversial finish, as the Eagles (6-8, 7-16) fell to the rival Idaho Vandals (11-3, 14-9) 75-74 on Monday at Reese Court.

The last seconds of play were filled with drama and controversy. EWU trailed 72-69 when junior forward Uriah Howard, who scored 13 points in the game, hit a three-pointer with 10.8 seconds left to tie the game. Idaho got possession, but Morrow stole the ball and dribbled down the court. At this point, EWU was out of timeouts, so the Eagles had to shoot. Morrow was tied up by a Vandal defender, but the arrow pointed EWU’s way.

Freshman guard Brittany Klaman came to inbound the ball with 3.7 seconds left, and Kirscher saw an opportunity. She cut to the basket, and Klaman found her for the go-ahead layup to make it 74-72 EWU. The clock ran down to 0.7 seconds, but the officials correctly changed the time to 1.7 seconds left as Idaho took a timeout. Kirscher knew right before the play she’d have an opportunity at the rim.

“We already ran that play and (Idaho guard Mikayla) Ferenz was cheating it,” Kirscher said. “(EWU head coach Wendy Schuller) pulled me aside and told me to back cut her, and she bit it.”

Idaho had one last opportunity. The game clock in-house read 1.7 seconds, while the SWX local broadcast showed 1.6 seconds on the clock. Idaho inbounded the ball, caught it near midcourt, and passed to Ferenz on the left wing. Ferenz’s desperation three banked in, but appeared to come long after the buzzer. For the time being, EWU was declared the winner.

While the Eagles celebrated, the officials walked over to the scorer’s table. They reviewed the shot for nearly ten minutes before declaring Ferenz’s shot to be good, making Idaho the victor and leaving EWU players, coaches and fans stunned.

The officials told the scorer’s table that the clock had started too early and that the ball had left Ferenz’s hand in time. Official basketball rules state that the clock isn’t supposed to start until a player that is inbounds touches the ball, but the clock started on the inbounds pass. After the game, Schuller told the media the explanation she was given by the officials.

“I thought timewise, it seems tough to catch a ball, gather it, turn, pass, catch and shoot in 1.7 seconds,” Schuller said. “Evidently, the officials timed it and said it was clearly off in that amount of time. I don’t have a stopwatch on it, so I don’t know.”

Schuller went on to explain that the officials told her that the shot left Ferenz’s hand with 1.3 seconds left, meaning the initial catch, pass and shot would’ve had to have come in 0.4 seconds.

“That was what I didn’t really understand,” Schuller said. “I don’t know how you can catch it, turn it and pass it in 0.4 seconds, and gather yourself and shoot it. That’s the fastest 0.4 seconds I’ve ever heard of.”

SWX’s Sam Adams told the Easterner after the game that their broadcast had 1.6 seconds on the game clock when Idaho took the last shot. After the game was declared final, SWX timed the play using a stopwatch from the initial catch, pass, shot and release, timing the play anywhere from 1.65 to 1.68 seconds. Adams also explained that the officials used a different method to determine whether the shot was good.

According to Adams and the official scorer’s table, the officials determined the shot was good by calculating how long the inbounds pass was in the air while the game clock had started. Instead of using SWX’s method of simply timing the first touch, pass and shot, the officials subtracted the time that the ball was in the air while the clock was erroneously running from the time that Idaho first touched and shot the ball. The officials used this method to determine the shot to be good.

“It’s a really tough way to lose,” Schuller stated plainly postgame.

Next up for EWU is a home matchup with Southern Utah on Feb. 21. Tip-off is at 6:05 p.m. at Reese Court.