Controversial call dooms Miners vs ODU

EL PASO, Texas – UTEP thought it had beaten Old Dominion on a last-second shot. So did the vocal crowd of 8,663 at the Haskins Center. Matt Willms darted toward the basket as Omega Harris launched a shot with 2.1 seconds left and the Miners down by 1. Willms tapped the ball into the basket just before the buzzer sounded, and the Miners began celebrating with a massive dog-pile in front of the floor seats at the Haskins Center.

Then the officials went to the replay booth, presumably to make sure Willms' shot beat the buzzer. It did, but that wasn't why Old Dominion was awarded the victory. As it turns out, the game clock started late, so UTEP had more than the 2.1 seconds that was showing on the game clock. While the official timekeeper was indeed late to start the clock, each official has a game clock on his/her hip.

The officials were correct. It took UTEP 3.1 seconds from the time the ball was in-bounded until the time Willms made the basket, which means had the official timekeeper properly started the game, time would have expired before Willms made the shot. Old Dominion wins, 62-61.

“A guy (referee) marks it good, so it’s got to be irrefutable,” said UTEP coach Tim Floyd after the game. “And apparently he felt like, based on looking at his little thing on his hip versus the other, that [the clock] may not have started on time from the scorer’s desk. How would I know without looking at things, but I know it’s got to be irrefutable when they mark the basket good."

UTEP’s five-game win streak came to an end, while Old Dominion won its fifth straight.

The Monarchs (19-10, 12-5 C-USA) clinched the no. 3 seed in next week’s Conference USA Championship. UTEP (13-16, 11-6 C-USA) will secure the no. 4 seed and a first-round bye in the tournament with a win over Charlotte on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Miners can also get the no. 4 seed if Rice loses at WKU Saturday night.

Senior guard Dominic Artis had a chance to put UTEP ahead by 3 with :20 left, but he missed both free throws.

Saturday is Senior Day and Artis’ final home appearance for the Miners. Tickets are available by calling (915) 747-5234, with all seats in the non-Gold sections $8 and $10.

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