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Thursday, March 14, 2013
Charlotte wins controversial contest

ESPN.com news services

The opening game of the Atlantic 10 tournament ended in bizarre fashion Thursday as Charlotte made eight free throws over the final 4.7 seconds en route to a 68-63 victory over Richmond, which was whistled for three technical fouls during the stunning turnaround.

"You couldn't make that up if you want to make a movie out of that one," Charlotte coach Alan Major said.

"It's very frustrating knowing that we couldn't do anything about it, knowing that we couldn't stop them from scoring," Richmond guard Kendall Anthony said. "It was just hard watching it, how that unraveled."

Chris Mooney
Richmond coach Chris Mooney reacts to a controversial call at the end of Thursday's Atlantic 10 tournament game against Charlotte.

It all started when Richmond, which owned a 63-60 lead with five seconds left, chose to foul Charlotte to prevent the 49ers from attempting a tying 3-pointer.

As Pierria Henry's free throw swished through the net on the front end of a one-and-one, Richmond's Derrick Williams and Charlotte's Willie Clayton became entangled setting up for a potential rebound.

Williams shoved Clayton to the floor, prompting a technical foul call against the Spiders. Reggie Greenwood, the conference coordinator of officials, said afterward that because the play happened during a dead ball, by rule the foul was a technical.

"Basketball's a hard game; it's very physical," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. "There is a lot of positioning and things that happen during the course of the game, and you kind of have to make sure that recognizing the time and score of the game that we can't have anything happen like that."

Instead of needing to intentionally miss the second free throw to hope for a tip to tie the game, the 49ers found themselves with three more foul shots -- plus possession -- to try to take the lead. Henry made the second end of the one-and-one, then both his attempts for the technical bounced around the rim and in to give Charlotte a 64-63 lead.

"When I was at the free throw line and huddling up, my teammates told me, 'Man, we're going to make this. We're going to win the game and move on and take care of business for the next day,'" Henry said.

Richmond had to foul, and when Henry forced up a shot from near midcourt as he was being grabbed, the referees awarded him three free throws. Mooney was then called for two technicals and ejected. Mooney paced outside the locker room for several minutes after being led off the court, muttering, "How can they decide the game ..."

"I was upset and probably too upset," Mooney said after the contest. "So, again, I apologize. I wish it wouldn't have happened like that. I can't take it back right now, but I certainly wish I could, and I wish the whole last 4½ seconds would have been a little bit different."

That sequence resulted in a whopping seven additional foul shots for Henry with 2.8 seconds remaining, and he made four of them for the final margin, finishing with 28 points.

Williams, a junior who grew up in Harlem and played his last two years of high school ball at powerhouse St. Anthony in Jersey City, didn't want to talk after the game.

"He's a great young player for us," Mooney said. "He's a really good kid who has done a lot of good things for us.

"It's disappointing. I'm sure it's most disappointing for him that this would happen and kind of the game to turn out that way because of what happened."

Ninth-seeded Charlotte (21-10, 8-8) faces top-seeded Saint Louis in the quarterfinals Friday.

"It hurts a lot," Richmond leading scorer Darien Brothers said. "The game was there for us to win. You know, it was a silly foul at the end that caused them to win the game."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.