November 16, 2010
Maybe some members of the Southern Illinois basketball team are young enough that they weren't familiar with the story of Chris Webber entering college hoops infamy in the 1993 national title game by calling a timeout Michigan didn't have.
If so, the Salukis are surely intimately familiar with Webber's gaffe now.
Tied with Northeastern in the closing seconds of the first overtime period on Tuesday morning, Southern Illinois rebounded the ball underneath the Huskies' hoop with three seconds remaining and apparently shouted for a timeout to set up a final play. Of course, the only problem was that the Salukis were out of timeouts, paving the way for Northeastern's Chaisson Allen to hit one of two technical foul shots and lift his team to an anticlimactic 63-62 victory.
If Webber had the ultimate blunder because it cost Michigan a chance to secure the national championship, Southern Illinois' mistake was still plenty painful for fans, even though the stakes were more modest. It came in front of a national audience in the midst of ESPN's 24-hour tip-off marathon, and it dropped a once-formidable Salukis program to 0-2 on the new season.
For Northeastern, the victory was especially sweet because the Huskies achieved it despite a sub-par game from Allen, who averaged more points a game last season than the rest of the team's returners combined.
Saddled with foul trouble for much of the game, Allen contributed little until the waning minutes and finished with just 12 points. Sophomore Joel Smith picked up the slack with 19 against the Salukis, helping propel Northeastern to its second solid win of the season after the Huskies defeated America East contender Boston University in their opener.