With Northwestern in the midst of a stunning 20-5 run that cut No. 1 Gonzaga’s second-round lead to five points with five minutes left, Collins threw a temper tantrum after a horrible no-call by the officials, running out onto the court to shout at a referee and quickly getting T’d up. The call effectively halted Northwestern’s momentum and, for all intents and purposes, ended the comeback hopes.
The problem is, Collins was right and not just in a “we looked at this in super slo-mo for five minutes and think refs got the call wrong” but in a “how did you miss this call live, it was obvious to everybody in the building, watching on television and probably even listening on radio?” On the play in question, Northwestern’s Dererk Pardon went strong to the hoop for a dunk and was rejected by Zach Collins of Gonzaga. But it was clear that Collins had stuck his hand up through the rim, which is basket interference. The field goal should have been awarded, Gonzaga’s lead should have been cut to three and with Mark Few’s Bulldogs in complete meltdown mode, it felt like the game was going to be Northwestern’s to lose.
Instead, Collins got the tech, Gonzaga made both free throws and there was a backbreaking four-point swing. The momentum was done and though Northwestern still had chances to get back in the game over the last four minutes, the team saw its last, best chance blow up along with its coach’s temper. (Granted, it has to be tough for Collins; after years of playing and coaching for Duke, seeing an officiating decision go the other way must be jarring.)
Collins will get a pass because the call was so egregiously bad. He shouldn’t. Bad calls happen all the time. Bad calls in important, tight situations do too. They’re an unfortunate part of sports. It’s your job to keep your cool. Collins flew off the handle and it might have cost his team its greatest victory in school history.
UPDATE: The NCAA released a statement that said “officials missed a rules violation” on the play in question and that the basket interference should have “resulted in a scored basket by Northwestern.” That statement also confirmed that the technical assessed to Collins was legitimate.