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The Early Lead
Posted at 02:32 PM ET, 03/10/2011

Rutgers goes home as St. John’s gets the (non) calls

Let’s review the unreviewable: Justin Brownlee traveled. He stepped out of bounds. He heaved the ball into the stands. He didn’t get whistled for either of the first two offenses and didn’t draw a technical for the third.

It was a terrible, awful, rotten way for St. John’s to end Rutgers’ season> with a 65-63 victory in the Big East Conference tournament in Madison Square Garden. It was so awful that even the conference commissioner was contrite.

“The Big East Conference acknowledges that two separate officiating errors occurred at the conclusion of the St. John’s vs. Rutgers game,” Commissioner John Marinatto said of the performance by referees Jim Burr, Tim Higgins and Carl Walton in a statement issued by the Big East. “Both missed violations should have caused the game clock to stop and a change of possession to occur prior to the end of the game. Neither error is reviewable or correctable under NCAA playing rules.”

See? It stinks. “That was a poor job and it’s okay for us to say it,” Jay Bilas said on “Mike and Mike in the Morning.” Maybe change will be forthcoming, but it doesn’t help Rutgers, which finishes 15-17. “I saw it on YouTube,” Rutgers Coach Mike Rice said, personifying the high road. “There was a mistake. They will admit it. I made several mistakes, my players made several mistakes, I’m sure that my staff who thinks they’re always right made several mistakes.”

So St. John's, a New York City team, gets one in the Garden and advances and maybe, Ian O'Connor writes, feels like a Final Four team. From O’Connor:

Good teams get better breaks. Charmed teams weather bad bounces and maneuver their way around the officials’ human flaws to make deep runs in the NCAA tournament.

St. John’s has declared itself one of those teams. St. John’s is strong enough, and opportunistic enough, to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1985, a notion Dwight Hardy embraced on his postgame walk to the winning locker room.

”I think we have a great shot of making it to the Final Four,” Hardy told ESPNNewYork.com. “If we can just play our style and get teams to play the way we want to play, we can beat anybody. We showed it here by beating Duke.”

Maybe so. But that ending still stinks.

By  |  02:32 PM ET, 03/10/2011

 
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