JERSEY CITY, N.J., MARCH 3 -- When Fairfield's Harold Brantley hit a layup with one second remaining, a jubilant Coach Mitch Buonaguro charged onto the court with his players to celebrate an apparent 60-59 upset victory of St. Peter's Wednesday night in a Metro Atlantic Conference playoff game.
As it turned out, the celebration started one second too early. Fairfield found itself an exasperated loser when officials Jack Hannon, Jim Kinney and Al Murray called a technical foul on Buonaguro for running onto the court.
In addition to the two technical foul shots and possession of the ball, the game officials, who refused to comment about their decisions, added a second to the time clock. Willie Haynes hit both technical free throws to give St. Peter's a 61-60 lead and the Peacocks ended up winning, 63-60.
Today, the conference tournament committee rejected a protest by Fairfield less than an hour after it was filed. Commissioner Don DiJulia said NCAA rules do not allow for protests, and judgment calls cannot be protested.
"I thought we lost the game on a call that didn't have to be made," Buonaguro said after the game. "I thought the game was over and I thought it was won by Fairfield. To lose a game like that after the way our kids played just stinks."
Buonaguro asked officials why they had called a technical foul after Brantley's basket and said he was told by Hannon, "I gave you the 'T' for running out on the court. You were on the court and that's a 'T'."
Buonaguro also was quoted in local news reports as saying St. Peter's Coach Ted Fiore prompted the officials to call the technical.
Fiore said the officials had no choice but to make the call.
"It was very obvious. He was out in the center of the court," Fiore said. "They had no choice but to make the call. I didn't think the call was that controversial in and of itself, but the way the game ended was controversial."