When Bucknell Coach Dave Paulsen saw Muscala release the shot, he was convinced it was a three-pointer. The officials ruled it was a two-pointer. There was no time for Paulsen to argue because Holy Cross, out of timeouts, was inbounding the ball. Holy Cross point guard Andrew Beinert threw a 75-foot inbounds pass that was caught by center Josh Jones, who quickly tossed a pass to Devin Brown - his team's best shooter. Brown's shot, from about 26 feet, would have counted if it had gone in, but it was wide left as the buzzer sounded.
Bucknell won, 74-72.
TV replays later showed that Muscala's shot was, in fact, a three-pointer, and it didn't really matter because Bucknell had won the game. But what if Brown's shot, a squared-up attempt off a well-run play, had gone in? At that moment, it would have appeared that Holy Cross had won the game, 75-74.
That would not have been the case.
By rule, Paulsen could have asked the officials to look at the TV monitor at the scorer's table to see if Muscala's shot was a three-pointer. They would no doubt have seen it as such, the score would have been tied at 75 and Holy Cross would have had to stop celebrating and play overtime.
"The window to check the monitor would still have been open at that point," said John Adams, the NCAA's supervisor of basketball officials. "The rule says after the second live ball, you can't go back. At that point, there had only been one live ball."
To translate: When Muscala's shot went through the basket, it was a dead-ball situation. The Holy Cross inbounds pass created a live ball, and then if a shot had been made the ball would have been dead again.
The ball never would have been live a second time in that situation because the buzzer would have sounded. At that point, the officials would have first checked to see if Brown's shot had beaten the buzzer. Once they ruled that it had, Paulsen would have asked them to check to see if Muscala's shot was a three-pointer and they would have confirmed that.
"We wouldn't have been happy," Holy Cross Coach Milan Brown said. "But if that was the call, that was the call."
But what if Jones had caught the ball, turned and made a two-point shot? At that point it would have appeared that the Crusaders had tied the score at 74. Once the replays had been checked, though, Holy Cross would have been told it had lost the game.
"Oh my God, really?" Brown said. "If that had happened then I would have been totally furious. In fact, I doubt if we'd have ended up losing by one because I'm not sure how many technicals they would have given me before I was done."