MOSCOW, Idaho – Idaho senior Shawn Henderson insisted it didn’t touch the rim. His coach – and most of the other 5,016 people at the Cowan Spectrum – agreed.
Even Boise State’s La’Shard Anderson – the one who came up empty at the end of the shot clock with 1:12 left – admitted afterward he didn’t think his attempt nicked the iron.
But the officials thought otherwise and didn’t call a shot-clock violation. Not hearing a whistle, Anderson picked up the rebound on his own miss and sank a follow shot.
With a wild rivalry game coming down to the wire, the bucket came in handy.
Thanks to Anderson’s heady play, BSU withstood the Vandals’ last-minute rally for an exhilarating 70-67 triumph in the rivals’ final game in Moscow with both in the Western Athletic Conference.
Idaho (12-7, 5-2) lost a grip on a 12-point lead in the first half and had its six-game winning streak snapped in front of the third-largest crowd to see a game at the Cowan Spectrum.
“I’m kind of just empty right now,” Henderson said. “I just felt like we should have won the game. We kind of let up in the second half.”
Henderson pulled the Vandals within one, at 68-67, with a 3-pointer from the corner with less than 6 seconds left. But Anderson connected on two ensuing free throws, and a desperation 3-pointer from center Kyle Barone missed the rim.
There was no doubt about Barone’s heave. But Anderson’s earlier failed shot at the end of a crucial BSU possession was hotly protested by UI coach Don Verlin, who called a timeout solely to get the attention of the officials.
After huddling, the three refs – Verne Harris, Ken Nielson and Newton Chelette – agreed the bucket should count without looking at a monitor.
“They said it was a non-reviewable play,” Verlin said. “That’s the explanation they gave to me. It didn’t look like it hit the rim to me, but it’s a judgment call on their part and those are three good officials.”
Asked if his shot hit the rim, Anderson said, “Honestly, I don’t think it did. But I didn’t hear the whistle and you’ve got to play until you hear the whistle.”
Instead of focusing on the apparent missed call, the Vandals instead were left to ponder blown opportunities in the second half. They looked lost at times against BSU’s full-court pressure and committed a costly turnover – one of 13 – with less than 30 seconds left.
After falling behind by 12, the Broncos pounced on Idaho with two key 3-pointers against UI’s zone defense and Anderson’s 14 second-half points.
“They looked unstoppable that first half, I thought,” first-year BSU coach Leon Rice said of the Vandals.
But what went wrong in the second half?
“I think they just turned into the aggressor,” Henderson said. “We kind of slowed down a little bit in the second half.”
Anderson finished with 21 points and seven assists. Barone led UI with 15 points and eight rebounds.