Posted: Feb 3, 2013 11:16 AM
FAYETTE, MO - A fantastic Heart of America Athletic Conference women's basketball game on Saturday was overshadowed by a controversial ending to No. 10 MidAmerica Nazarene's (Kan.) 64-63 win over Central Methodist inside Puckett Fieldhouse.
The controversy began following a steal by the Pioneers' Ebonee Bell with 17 seconds left in the game. After a timeout and dribble off, Bell hit a fade-away jumper to give her team the one-point edge. Bell's bucket was met with elation and pandemonium by MidAmerica Nazarene's bench, with multiple players filing out onto the court before time had expired.
According to the 2012-13 Men's and Women's Basketball Rules, Section 6, Article 2, Clause F, all bench personnel shall remain seated on the bench while the ball is live, except to spontaneously react to an outstanding play, immediately sitting down on the bench afterwards. Also, it is illegal to delay the game by preventing the ball from being promptly made live or by preventing continuous play, such as bench personnel entering the playing court before player activity has been terminated. In such a case, when the delay does not interfere with play, it shall be ignored. However, video replay shows six MidAmerica Nazarene bench players and one coach entering the court with 1.5 seconds still on the clock, most notably No. 4 Navia Palu (fourth player from the left) sprinting to the middle of the court and and interfering with the live action. By rule, a Class B Technical Foul should have been accessed, and two free throws should have been awarded to any member of the offended team. If a technical foul had been called, Central Methodist could have sent any player to the line to shoot two potentially game-winning free throws.
After a 15 minute video replay, the officials determined the technical foul play was not reviewable, but Heart of America Athletic Conference Basketball Supervisor of Officials David Brown perhaps disagrees and commented that he will review the video from the game before issuing a final judgment. However, it is important to note that the outcome of the game cannot be overturned.
The Pioneers opened the first 3:41 of Saturday's contest on a 12-2 run, following two Palu free throws.
Trailing 15-5, the Eagles answered with a 9-0 spurt. Kyra Williams three cut the deficit to 15-14 midway through the half. After MidAmerica Nazarene built a seven-point cushion, 21-14, Central Methodist clawed back into tie the game before tying the contest at 27-all following a Raylyn Nuss free throw at the 3:10 mark. Brittney Hotsenpiller then hit her only shot attempt of the day, a trey from the corner, to give the Eagles a three-point lead. Bell made two free throws with under a minute to go in the half, but the Green and Black maintained a 30-29 upper hand at the break.
Central Methodist's Britney Joseph broke a 31-all tie with a two-pointer 1:41 into the second half to ignite a quick 7-0 run. The home team's advantage swelled to as many as 14 points, 47-33, following a Taylor Cornelison free throw with 9:54 left in the game.
The Pioneers came back by outscoring the Eagles 26-12 over the next eight minutes. Rachel Boan's three with 2:01 on the clock trimmed the visitor's deficit to one point, 59-58. Daria Sprew and Joseph traded a pair of free throws that kept Central Methodist ahead 61-60 with 1:16 to play.
On the ensuing possession, the Pioneers' Kendra Flemming was called for a moving screen, giving the ball back to the Eagles. Nuss converted two double bonus free throws to give the Green and Black a three-point advantage with 51 seconds on the clock. Nine seconds later, Bell was sent to the free throw line, where she made both attempts, setting up the wild ending.
Kelsey Balcom led MidAmerica Nazarene offensively with 14 points. Flemming followed up with 12. Boan and Kiley Herold each had 10.
Central Methodist's Towanda Sutton posted a season-high 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting. She was also 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.
Joseph chipped in 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
The Eagles' Kyra Williams and Jasmine Poteete had nine points apiece. Williams also had three steals.
Nuss had seven points. Cornelison had seven rebounds.
MidAmerica Nazarene entered Saturday as the third best shooting team in the country, hitting better than 46 percent from the field, but the Eagles held the Pioneers to a season-low 30.4 percent (17-of-56). The road team made up for it at the free throw line by going 28-of-28, setting a new NAIA Division I record for most free throws made without a miss.
Central Methodist shot 44.9 percent (22-of-49) from the floor and 72.7 percent (16-of-22) from the charity stripe.
The Eagles host Graceland (Iowa) on Thursday, Feb. 7. Tip-off for Student Organization Night inside Puckett Fieldhouse is set for 5:30 p.m. CT.