If the Iowa basketball team ends up narrowly missing out on postseason play, we would imagine the Hawkeyes will look back at Feb. 8 as a key moment.
That’s the night three Big Ten officials somehow missed three Iowa players frantically calling for a timeout at a key moment in a game at Minnesota’s Williams Arena.
The Hawkeyes ended up losing to Minnesota 101-89 in double overtime, falling to 14-11 overall and 6-6 in the Big Ten, but the game really pivoted on a sequence in the final minute of regulation play.
Iowa had a 77-75 lead and as the Golden Gophers tried to run a play to tie the game, the Hawkeyes’ Nicholas Baer poked the ball loose from Akeem Springs and grabbed it with about 27 seconds remaining. Baer threw the ball to teammate Brady Ellingson, who paused for a moment in the corner of the court waiting to see what the Minnesota players would do.
As Springs and Jordan Murphy descended on him, Ellingson dribbled to the corner, turned his back and asked for a timeout. Springs was swatting at him from behind, perhaps trying to foul him, and Murphy circled around to the other side of Ellingson and got a hand on the ball with his left foot out of bounds.
Official Chris Beaver called a jump ball, giving the ball to Minnesota, rather than granting the timeout.
Big Ten Network play-by-play man Kevin Kugler noted at that moment: “If they did it verbally, you weren’t going to hear it in this building.’’
Sure, except that if you watched the BTN broadcast of the game, you can very clearly hear it. Iowa players are shouting “Timeout, timeout, timeout.’’ Williams Arena is among the loudest venues in the Big Ten but all of us watching at home could hear them asking for the timeout.
Ellingson is yelling it. Jordan Bohannon is standing next to Beaver along the baseline signaling for a timeout with his hands. Baer is running toward the corner, also signaling with his hands.
No one wearing a striped shirt heard or saw them.
Since Murphy was out of bounds, it shouldn’t have been a held ball anyway. It should have been Iowa’s ball either way.
Beaver didn’t see that, didn’t see Bohannon, didn’t see Baer, didn’t hear what everyone else clearly heard. He gave the ball to Minnesota and neither of the other two officials on the court overruled him.
If Iowa keeps the ball there, with 20.3 seconds left, it can inbound the ball and force the Gophers to foul.
Peter Jok is shooting 92.7 percent from the free throw line for the season and was 9 for 9 in the game. Bohannon shoots 87.5 percent. Ellingson has not missed a free throw all season.
If any of them goes to the line, the Hawkeyes probably take a 79-75 lead and the game is pretty much over. Iowa has a four-game winning streak and a 15-10 record, and is alone in fifth place in the Big Ten and possibly back in the NCAA tournament discussion.
Instead, Nate Mason scored for Minnesota with 9 seconds left, the game eventually went to two overtimes and Iowa lost.
To his credit, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery bit his tongue several times in his postgame news conference and refused to discuss the officiating gaffe. Big Ten coaches who criticize game officials are subject to a $10,000 fine.
But it was pretty apparent what McCaffery and his entire coaching staff thought of the call at the moment it occurred.