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Wildjays Wrap: A Little Homecooking

Today, though the Bluejays looked like they were ready to blow George Mason out, they only held on to a 4 to 6 points lead throughout the second half.   However, it was a series of events in the last two minutes of the game that will have a lot of people shaking their heads on how Creighton lost the game to George Mason 75-72.

The Jays were up 68-63 with about 2:42 left in the game.  George Mason put on a full court press which really rattled the Jays, caused a couple of turnovers which resulted in the Patriots being able to chip away at the lead.  Three missed free throws by the Bluejays during that stretch as well and the next thing you knew, George Mason was down 72-70 with a chance to tie the game or get the win with about 27 seconds left.  Cam Long for George Mason gets a ball screen and drives to the basket with a set Justin Carter waiting for Long.  But instead of getting called for a charge, Carter was called for a blocking foul with Mason going to the line for the 40th time with 18 seconds remaining.

This is where things get even weirder.  Dana Altman was then called for a technical foul—mind you only the 8th in his career 477 games on the Creighton bench.  How does any referee make this call at that point of the game?  On Creighton’s Big Sports 590 postgame show, Altman said, “I want to defend myself a little bit.  All I did was raise my arms.  I didn’t curse, I didn’t do anything else.”  He was even standing inside the coaches box.  George Mason went on to hit their technical three throws to tie the game and then Long hit one of two free throws to give Mason the lead for the first time since less than 30 seconds into the second half.  Creighton had a couple opportunities for a final shot, but Justin Carter then fumbled the ball and George Mason had a breakaway dunk with just over 2 seconds remaining to go up three and then Carter just missed the shot from just inside half court as time expired.

But the bottom line is this–George Mason took 44 shots at the foul line and hit 31 of them which ended up being over 41% of their points for the game.  The number of free throw attempts were more than double of Mason’s season average of 21 FT per game.   This was the thing that kept the Patriots in the game.  Now granted, Mason was pretty aggressive with the ball seemingly shooting free throws every time they were fouled even before the bonus situations.  However, Creighton on the other hand had 18 foul shots the whole game, but only made 10.

You take away the technical on Altman and the Jays are up 1 with 18 seconds left in the game.  I would have much rather seen the two teams play out the game to see who would come out on top, but instead it was dictated by three men who wanted to be bigger than the game.

The whole end of game drama overshadowed a great performance by P’Allen Stinnett with 21 points and as a team Creighton made a season high 12 three pointers.  Justin Carter’s homecoming effort garnered 13 points (including 3 triples) and 8 rebounds.  Creighton also had 19 assists on 25 baskets which was quite impressive.

The Bluejays are now 0-5 on the road and are still looking for one of those wins that will stick out from the tough non-conference.  Their last chance for that will be a week from now in a trip to The Pit against an undefeated New Mexico team.

At the end of the day, you would expect to be talking about the adversity Creighton took on to win the game, or the miscues they did that put the game in question, or the missed free throws that bit them back in the end.  But at this point all anyone really wants to look at are Don Daily, John Moore , and Brad Gaston (who actually called the technical on Altman),  three referees who decided to put their agenda above the young kids working their tail off on the court.  They have over 600 games of experience and they usually do Missouri Valley Conference games.  They should be ashamed of themselves that they made the game finish the way they did.  I also find it funny that George Mason was a 2 point favorite.

Since we are talking about referees, put these stats in your back pocket:  Daily is #1 in the nation this season with crews that call an average of 45.1 fouls per game.   Gaston is 7th averaging 42.6 fouls called a game.  Today there were a total of 46 fouls called.  Gaston was also part of a crew that called 2 technicals in the Southern Illinois/SEMO game the other night and 2 technicals in the Wichita St/Texas Southern game nine days ago (which Moore was a part of also).  Must be in the giving mood with the holidays coming up soon.

Unfortunately, this is what fans remember from this game.     The athletes should decide the game on the court, not the guys in stripes.  I know they won’t get a Christmas card from me.

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