Should Wagner’s circus fallaway buzzer beater have counted?

Jeff Eisenberg
December 31, 2011

There was only one problem with all the hugging and screaming and fist pumping that ensued after Wagner guard Kenneth Ortiz's fallaway circus shot as time expired Friday night gave the Seahawks a 64-62 victory at Santa Clara.

Ortiz's unlikely buzzer beater probably shouldn't have counted.

According to Rule 9, Section 3, Article 2 of the NCAA basketball rules,"The ball shall be out of bounds when any part of the ball passes over the backboard from any direction." Video replays appear to confirm that Ortiz's desperation shot traveled over the backboard as he fell out of bounds after retrieving the rebound of teammate Tyler Murray's errant shot.

"Just playing around before practice or at rec games, we shoot from behind the backboard," Ortiz told the Associated Press. "Then it happens in a real game. I say as long as I put it up, we had a chance."

Referees huddled at mid-court after Ortiz's shot but decided to count it to the displeasure of Santa Clara players and coaches. Broncos coach Kerry Keating raced to midcourt to talk to the referees and appeared to be signaling that the ball traveled over the backboard, though he was gracious in his postgame comments to Santa Clara's official athletic site.

"In the end, we gave up one too many rebounds," Keating said.  "We have to play all the way through and it's a hard lesson to learn that way tonight."

The controversial victory improves Wagner's record to 10-3 and builds on the momentum the Seahawks generated from upsetting Pittsburgh on the road last week. Santa Clara had rallied from 15 points down in the final five minutes, but some bad luck and a questionable call cost the Broncos the chance at overtime.

Keating, of all people, should know that rule since one of his former players won a game on a similar over-the-backboard buzzer beater. The year after Keating left for Santa Clara, UCLA's Josh Shipp beat Cal in March 2008 on a controversial floater from a similar angle as the one Ortiz took.

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