R calls me in the morning all in a panic to tell me she doesn’t think the PAC-10 Semi-Finals are on TV after all. She said she checked the usual sports station and can’t find it. After perusing all 900 or so cable channels I get, I find it on an obscure shopping network. Really. Okay, it is supposed to be Fox Sports Network number 29 or something, but the afternoon is all about hawking jewelry. If this were the winter Olympics, this would be the channel showing curling. And those necklaces, they must be a special deal, because they are only going to show this on TV one time, one time only, so you better hurry….wait, somebody slap me …. they are hypnotic in their shameless pitches.
Anyhoo, I cautiously turn on the TV at 6:00 PM, and good thing for me the jewelry guy is gone and on comes Cal, playing “host” USC. The stands are still empty for the hometown team. Maybe the fans are all across town at the Staples center, where the Lakers and Clippers play, watching the MEN’S USC team, win their tournament. At one point the announcers said if this were still in San Jose, you would see 5,000 fans in the stands for Stanford, and she is correct. I hope they bring it back up north to where more people appreciate women’s basketball.
Both Cal and USC look nervous and C and R see several shots that don’t even hit the rim, including a couple of air balls. Come on, ladies, if we want to get more fans to this great game, you need to play a better game. USC is up 21-14, and they look like they are on a mission.
USC stays up by nine to thirteen most of the game, then with about 4 minutes left, Cal works it inside and creep back. Then, suddenly, down by two, and 7 seconds left, Alexis Gray-Lawson dribbles down court and her foot just slips out from under her, she loses the ball and USC forces a jump ball with .3 seconds. Man, is Cal snake-bit or what?
“Okay,” R pounds on my knee, “I remember this from last year. There is a rule that no one can catch and shot a ball with .3 seconds left. You need to have .4 seconds left. So Cal can’t win.” C is impressed with R’s knowledge of rule trivia.
The announcers say Cal has one chance, a long shot, it has to be a lob, and the player has to catch and shoot in one motion, she can’t land. A lob to the basket. USC knows it, Cal knows it, the 10 fans in the stands know it, and C and R know it. So what does Cal do? Cal throws a lob from half court and Ashley Walker catches and shoots, makes the most incredible shot in the air, she gets it off in time, the game is tied.
The refs huddle.
We see 500 replays. Remember, the clock doesn’t start until the ball touches a player. Ashley catches the ball in the air and the clock goes down to .2 seconds, she shoots it still in the air, the ball clearly leaves her hand as the clock ticks down to .1 seconds. Also remember as long as the ball leaves the players hand before the clock gets to 00, the shot counts, even if the ball is traveling in the air when the buzzer sounds. The ball kisses the backboard and drops right around the buzzer, but that doesn’t matter, it clearly left her hand at .2. It is a legal shot, in C and R’s opinion. The announcers agree.
The refs look at replays and still huddle. The USC coach is angry and adamant and yelling at the refs. Cal is preparing the players for overtime, and the USC coach should be, too, but he is getting upset and the USC players are standing around. They already jumped up and down and celebrated. C and R hope this thing goes into overtime and the USC team is still standing there, unprepared. By the way, USC missed three attempts at free throws in teh closing seconds. Just making one of them would not have put them in this position.
Then the refs say no basket, game over, USC wins, and the refs run off the court. Say what? Cal got robbed, plain and simple.
The announcers explained that the rulebook already had decided their fate. The ruling says that if there is .3 seconds left, there can only be a tip, not a catch and shoot. It has already been determined not legally possible to shoot it. Geez, then why even let them play? Walker showed you could catch and shoot, as long as it is done quickly, as she did it. Revise the rulebook.
Cal does come out to shake hands with USC. Very classy. All the USC players hug Ashley Walker and she hugs them back but you can see she is heart broken. The whole team is.
C and R see our team warming up in the background as the announcers talks to USC. You go, Stanford, and don’t make it as close as the Cal came so the rulebook can’t bite ya.
Oh, Oklahoma lost in their tournament semi-finals, too, so it’s a good thing Courtney didn’t bet her scholarship on that title! C and R wish her team luck in the NCAA tournament, but now it doesn’t look like they will even get a number one seed.