A technical foul called on East Tennessee State’s Kenyona Swader with 19.4 seconds to play allowed top-seeded Belmont to escape with a 69-65 victory over in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference basketball tournament.
The Bruins trailed 65-64 when Andy Wicke of Belmont reached in against Swader and fouled him to stop the clock. Swader took exception to the reach in, and approached the Belmont player and said something. He was immediately whistled for a technical foul, and the Bruins’ Justin Hare went to the free throw line and made both shots, giving Belmont its first lead of the second half and control of the game.
Swader still had a one-and-one for the Buccaneers, but missed the front end of the bonus.
Hare made two more free throws and Dansby made one to seal the game for the Bruins, who are the two-time defending Atlantic Sun Conference champion.
Belmont will face Jacksonville Saturday at 6 p.m. in the title game.
When the game was over East Tennessee State coach Murry Bartow tried, but could not hide his anger and displeasure.
“I’m not comment on the officiating, because if I do we’ll never get done with this press conference,” Bartow said.
When he was finished meeting with the media, however, Bartow could not hide his displeasure in the hallway when he saw Atlantic Sun coordinator of officials Jake Bell.
“It’s [expletive], Jake,” Bartow was overheard saying. “It’s [expletive] and you know it.”
Belmont coach Rick Byrd, whose team won despite hitting just 9 of 39 shots from 3-point range, said he did not see what happened from the far end, but said the game should be called consistently throughout despite the situation.
“I didn’t see it well enough to make a comment on it,” Byrd said. “I do not subscribe to the theory that you don’t make a call at the end of the game that you wouldn’t make at any other time of the game.”