It takes six: Cheated out of semifinals

by Rylee Bamberger

There were four seconds left on the clock. Old Dominion had possession and the Troy Trojans were red hot after a 28-11 run.

ODU had a one-point lead and needed to execute one last play to protect it. What happened next?

The Lady Monarchs illegally sent six players out on the court to guarantee an open look and fight off the Trojans. Amari Young was the woman left unguarded and converted the layup to seal the 86-83 victory, sending ODU to the Sun Belt Tournament Semifinals.

This controversial play put an end to the run led by graduate senior Amber Leggett and senior forward Jada Walton. The pair combined for 18 out of the Trojans last 28 points to keep the Trojans in the game until the very last second.

“Go back and look at what we do,” head coach Chanda Rigby said in the postgame press conference. “This is what we do. We make these big raging come from behind wins. We knew we had to do it in this game.”

Coach Rigby acknowledged that Old Dominion was one of the best defensive teams in the conference. However, junior guard Makayia Hallmon was unphased.

The transfer from Louisiana finished the game with 26 points and six rebounds, keeping the game from getting out of hand before teammates Leggett and Walton took over. 

“She’s dynamic. She’s special. She’s a Troy player through and through,” Rigby said. “I can’t imagine a better match made in heaven than MayMay Hallmon and Troy women’s basketball.”

Hallmon and other transfers were brought in for one goal, to win a Sun Belt Championship and secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. However, this season’s chances were taken away on the last play of the game.

After a missed shot by the Trojans, ODU had possession of the ball and called a timeout. With an 84-83 lead and four seconds left in the game, the Lady Monarchs had five players on the court and one player inbounding the ball from the sideline.

The Trojans covered the five players on the court as best as they could; however, senior forward Amari Young slipped free and scored the wide open layup, leaving two seconds on the clock. One of the players involved in the play got pulled back to the bench by her teammate and the entire situation was missed by the referees.

“Old Dominion had six players on the playing court when the ball became live. Pursuant to Rule 10, Section 12, Article 2.f, Troy should have been awarded two free throws, followed by a throw-in at the point of interruption.” Sun Belt Conference officials said in an official statement. “This violation is not included on the list of calls a coach may appeal using replay and had to be recognized before the officials left the visual confines of the playing court.”

The Trojans tried to appeal the outcome of the game and remained on the court for an extended period of time fighting for the situation to be corrected. The game’s outcome would not be changed and the referees were not assigned any games for the rest of the tournament.

“I don’t agree with the fact that it wasn’t correctable,” Rigby said. “They were able to stop the game many times for reviewable things.”

The Trojans have no other choice but to return home and continue preparing for an invite to another tournament. Last season, the Trojans competed in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament after losing to the UT-Arlington in the Sun Belt Championship game. 

Selection Sunday is on March 12. Selection Sunday is the day where invitations for the NCAA’s most prestigious tournaments such as the NCAA Tournament and the WNIT will be sent out to programs across the country.

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