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MVC Buzzer-Beater Controversy Ends Swiftly

by Matthew Stevens | March 7th, 2009

ST. LOUIS – Even in a packed Scottrade Center, everyone on press row heard the yell.

“Start the clock!”

The scream was heard from every member of the Wichita State bench.

Shortly afterwards, the ball went through the hoop, the horn blared, and the Shockers’  season was over.

Creighton’s Booker Woodfox had good reason to celebrate at halfcourt after nailing the game-winning 15-footer to give the Bluejays a thrilling 63-62 victory in Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

“Really there ain’t no describing it,” Woodfox said. “The coach drew up a good play, I got the ball, it was a good lock and I just let it go.”

Referees used a stopwatch at the scorer’s table when everybody on the floor knew the clock operator had failed to start the clock on time. 

“The clock clearly started late, there’s no doubt about that. We determined there was at least 0.4 differential between the end of the game and when the shot left the hand. The shot was before the
expiration of time (had the clock started properly).”

To his enormous credit, Elgin quickly and swiftly dismissed a possible conspiracy by reviewing the tape, acting as the pool reporter and giving everyone available a chance to review the replay.

“That’s part of the job,” he said. “There’s crazy stuff that happens. We had a hell of a basketball game with a couple of twists and turns at the end.”

Doug Elgin checked it in the MetroSports TV truck, had reporters and WSU athletic director Eric Sexton watched it a few minutes later with him and then acted as the pool reporter to explain the situation. Elgin also allowed reporters to watch a replay of the disputed final seconds, and answered questions patiently as the controversy threatened to overshadow a thrilling game.

Elgin also “absolutely” promised to talk to WSU coach Gregg Marshall about the ending. In the interview room Marshall was less than pleased and unconvinced Woodfox had enough time to fumble the ball and get the shot off in time.

“It was apparent that the clock didn’t start on time – everybody knows that,” Marshall said. “That’s a hard thing to do (taking the shot off  the board) but it’s not a hard thing to do to click a button when the ball is inbounds.”

At the end of the long Friday session, nobody left the arena thinking  Creighton had been given a phantom victory to extend its hopes of  making the NCAA Tournament.

“We looked at it in the truck and it was clear to us the shot left the shooter’s hand between 1.0 and 0.9 left,” Elgin said. “We took a stopwatch to the inbounding of the ball from the time the ball was
touched to the time the clock started.”

Creighton will next face the Illinois State Redbirds in the semi-final round at 4:05 p.m. today.

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  1. Matthew Stevens Says:

    Creighton’s NCAA hopes are in deep trouble.

    The Bluejays find themselves down 35-18 to third-seed Illinois State at halftime after being held to 22 percent shooting from the field and 1-for-10 from three-point range.

    Illinois State has turned this game into a track meet and sprinted out to a 29-11 lead at the 8:00 media timeout.

    Redbirds guard Osiris Eldridge leads all scorers with 11 points while the 2009 MVC player of the year Booker Woodfox has only two for Creighton.

    If Creighton loses this game, it will certainly be a long week of waiting until Selection Sunday for Dana Altman’s crew–an ironic role reversal from a year ago.

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