You don't go to the cradle of the game and try to rock the boat.

It was as if a football bet wiped out the winning touchdown because the jubilant scorer spiked the ball. Southern Connecticut State beat Springfield College in basketball Sunday night, 70-69 - only to beat itself out of the victory with a celebration dunk. After time had expired, yet.

Referee Joe Soskovic land the basketball at center court in Springfield and made ready to certify the final score, a requirement to make the result official. Lo and behold, a Southern Conn player grabbed and ball, moved in toward one basket and whomped it through.

Technical foul, said Soskovic. Don Lemieux converted for the home team: 80-80. Overtime.

Oh no, protested Southern Conn coach Ed Brown. The game was over, the ruling a fraud and his team wasn't returning to the floor. Okay, said Soskovic. Forfeit. Springfield 2, Southern Conn O.

Brown picked a bad place - the birthplace of basetball, Springfield with Dr. Edward Steitz, the national interpreter of the collegiate basketball rules, present - to try to have the rules bent.

"Rule 2. Section 8 states a game is not terminated until the referee approves the score," Steitz declared. A dead-ball dunk "is the same thing as if a player throws a punch at a referee after a game or if a player curses out an official before the score is appoved. That's a technical foul."

Brown, whose 8-11 Owls were deprived of upsetting a 14-5 team, indicated he would protest to the Eastern College Athletic Conference, which provided the officials.

No good, said Steitz. "The National Basketball Committee of the United States and Canada does not recognize protests."

It's only incidental that Steitz is athletic director at Springfield College. . .