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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Timing controversy masks John Henson’s heroics, near-mishaps

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

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JohnHenson

When interviewed outside of his team's locker room following an 86-83 loss to North Carolina in the NCAA tournament's third round on Sunday, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar told his side of the story to CBS's Tracy Wooflson regarding a late timing controversy.

At the core of it, the Huskies should have been awarded a bit more time on the clock instead of the 0.5 they actually had after an utterly puzzling Venoy Overton half-court heave air-balled, but went off of UNC big man John Henson's fingers.

"We did ask (the officials to check)," Romar said in the brief, somber interview. "They said they'd already checked."

The situation was discussed at length from CBS's studio with the national coordinator of men's basketball officials, John Adams, who clarified things some with three key points.

• The clock is supposed to stop when the referee's whistle blows, not when the ball hits the ground. The ball hit the ground with 1.1 seconds left, while the whistle was blown with around 0.7 or 0.8 remaining.

• The refs are not obligated to look at the replay monitors.

• Adams, however, said he was 'disappointed' that they didn't take a look, making best use of all of the resources at their disposal.

So had everything gone the right way, Washington likely would not have had much more time to work with than it wound up with. They probably also would not have been able to get much better of a look at the bucket than what Isaiah Thomas had in the right corner, which ultimately fell short.

The controversy with the clock not just diverted a bit of the attention from Overton's puzzling late-game decisions, but it also masked Henson's heroics and near-mishaps. {YSP:MORE}

The lanky 6-foot-10 sophomore was criticized by studio analyst Charles Barkley at halftime after playing a bit tentative against Washington's size, but he came up big for the Heels down the stretch, finishing the game with 10 points, 10 boards and four key blocks.

His biggest play didn't go anywhere on the stat sheet, but came with just over seven seconds left. With Washington trailing by one and inbounding the ball under the UNC basket, Henson tipped a pass that Holiday tried to somehow flip over his head and outstretched arms.

The ball fell into the hands of UNC guard Dexter Strickland, who added two big free throws.

Henson, unfortunately, followed it with two moments that could have come back to bite his team.

With Overton's long toss destined to catch neither the rim nor the backboard, he tried to catch it before going out of bounds, but the ball fumbled off of his fingers and gave Washington its one last shot.

Then, when Thomas put up his final shot, Henson swatted it away just as it got near the rim. Goaltending was not called, as the ball was barely short of the iron, and even had it been whistled, the consequences wouldn't have mattered. Replays showed that Thomas's right foot was well in front of the 3-point line.

An officiating error covered it all up in the game's immediate aftermath, which, for John Henson, was both a good bad thing.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for the Las Vegas Sun. Read his Rebels coverage and follow him on Twitter.

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