Oral Roberts upset highly ranked Georgetown, 75-74, last night and the reason was simple: the visiting Titans shot amazingly well from the perimeter and usual Hoya hotshots John Duren and Eric Floyd did not.
Afterward, Georgetown Coach John Thompson stormed into the officials' locker room at McDonough Arena and cursed out John Bonder of Philadelphia, one of the three referees.
Thompson has continually criticized officiating in his seven seasons at Georgetown, especially when his Hoyas, ranked 9th and 10th in the polls and 16-3 this season, have lost on the road. What upset him last night, he said, was Bonder's explanation of a dead-ball dunk by Oral Roberts' Robert Griffin with 17 seconds to play.
The ball became dead when Griffin, attempting to steal the ball from Duran at midcourt, was called for a foul, his fifth. As play stopped, he loped about 45 feet and dunked the ball.
The score was 74-72, Oral Roberts, at the time and the rules state that a technical foul should be called on a dead-ball dunk unless there is reasonable doubt that the player did not hear the whistle. That aspect did not seem to be in question last night.
"I think Oral Roberts deserves all the credit in the world. They beat us. We didn't play our best game and a lot of that I attribute to Oral Roberts. They played well, they controlled the tempo and our press didn't bother them as much as it ordinarily would bother a team," Thompson said. "I'm not talking about that play in relation to the game.
"The only reason I was upset was because the first statement he (Bonder) made to me was, 'If it was one of your kids, would you want me to call it?' That's not a judgment call and obviously he saw it, by the fact of what he asked me. I told him it's the rule; it's just that simple."
That exchange happened during a timeout following the foul, when the 6-foot-10 Thompson stood at midcourt, with his hands on Bonder's shoulder, in a fatherly sort of way.
"If he had told me he hadn't seen it, I would have turned around. The guy was afraid to make the call. I didn't write the rule."
Leaving the officials' room, Thompson was still cursing and told Bonder: "The only reason you worked the game is because your uncle is head of the officials." (Lou Bonder, John Bonder's uncle, assigns officials for ECAC games.)
A few minutes later, after cooling off considerably, Thompson said of his actions, "It was unsportsmanlike of me to do it."
A few minutes before Thompson, along with Assistant Coach Billy Stein and a campus security man who were attempting to restrain him, entered the officials' locker room, a reporter asked Georgetown Athletic Director Frank Rienzo to ask the officials for a comment on the play.
Rienzo, who had been a few feet from the officials' door, went in and came back quickly, saying they said they could not talk to the press. The reporter then asked Rienzo to go back in and ask for a statement on the noncall.
The athletic director returned and said, "It was not a dunk ball. He had layed it in." Rienzo said two of the three officials had explained the play to him that way. He would not identify which ones.
The crowd and the television cameras saw differently and, in the joyous Oral Roberts locker room, Griffin, a 6-foot-1 junior, said, "I wanted to dunk so bad. I know if I made that dunk it would spark the whole team... No, I didn't know the rule. I wouldn't have dunked it."
He also said he did not hear the whistle before he dribbled in from midcourt and dunked the ball.
Lake Kelly, second-year coach of the 11-9 Titans, said he did not see the play, and had to ask his assistant coach about it and therefore would not comment. He also refused to talk about the officials, saying he wanted to take nothing away from his team's victory.
Had the technical been called, Georgetown could have won the game.Georgetown's John Duren was at the line for a one-and-one because of Griffin's fifth foul. He made both, tying the game at 74. If a technical had been called, the Hoyas would have gotten another free throw and possession of the ball.
Instead, after Duren made his free throws, the Titans worked the ball to leading scorer Calvin Garrett, who was fouled by Hoya Steve Martin on his shot from about eight feet to the right of the basket. He went to the line for the first time in the game, with seven seconds to play.
His first attempt, a high looping shot, hit the front of the rim and bounded away. But the second one, also a high looper, swished through for his 23rd point, giving Oral Roberts a 75-74 lead.
With mild pressure from the Titans, Duren took the inbounds pass, dribbled, fumbled the ball slightly near midcourt and then passed to Martin with about three seconds left. Martin's 30-foot desperation line-drive shot was way off target.
But, so were many other Hoya shots last night, even though the game was tied 11 times and the lead changed 12 times in the second half.