February 2, 2022 

Patriot League notebook: Let’s get technical

How did Lafayette lose to Army on a technical foul?

It was an ending you’ve probably never seen before. In the final seconds of the week’s final game, technical foul drama played out between Army and Lafayette in the form of a block-charge at West Point. It wasn’t a close call, but it was a costly one.

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The commotion included a technical foul and a video monitor review. We’ll take you courtside to share with you how it all went down, what was reviewed and why.

Let’s dive right into all the technical details of the Black Knights’ big win this weekend. It was a wild one. We’ll also open the rule book for you with NCAA Women’s Basketball Secretary-Rules Editor Jon Levinson, so we can all understand what we just saw out there. We’ve got it all—from the foul drama and video review to the game-deciding technical free throws. It was a finish you won’t believe. Here we go:

Army beats Lafayette in the final seconds

In the waning seconds of a 46-46 game, Lafayette point guard Abby Antognoli used a ball screen to drive down the left side, attacking the rim for a pull-up righty floater. Army defender Kamryn Hall rotated over from her weak-side help position and stepped in to challenge it.

Collision. Whistle. Drama.

A charge was called on Antognoli. If Lafayette head coach Kia Damon-Olson had one of those red challenge flags like in the NFL, it certainly looked like she would have tossed it across the court.

There are no challenge flags in NCAA women’s basketball or a set number of challenges like in the NBA, requested with the twirl of a finger. But coaches can appeal a block-charge call and that’s just what Lafayette chose to do.

Can you use a time-out when you don’t have one?

Yes, you can. But it’ll cost you.

Lafayette was assessed an administrative technical for this exact occurrence (more on that later).

When the Leopards wanted to contest the block-charge call with 5.8 seconds remaining, they had that option. More exactly, they had the option to appeal the position of the help defender in relation to the restricted arc.

Specifically, the officials can use video replay to determine if the secondary defender established position outside of the arc before contact occurred. The Lafayette coaching staff requested an appeal and the officials correctly granted it. 

Jon Levinson, NCAA Women’s Basketball Secretary-Rules Editor, spoke with The Next to address the rules: “So what the coach can appeal is the location of the players involved in a restricted area or lower defensive box play,” he said. “So the only time that the restricted area is in effect is when the offensive player starts their move to the basket outside the lower defensive box.”

What if a coach feels like there was no contact on the drive and therefore no foul occurred? Can they appeal that call?

According to the rulebook for NCAA women’s basketball, replay equipment may be used to: “determine the location of the players involved in a restricted area/lower defensive box play.” However, officials are prohibited from using replay for judgment rulings such as determining if a foul was committed.

The outcome of the replay would essentially confirm the charging call on Lafayette or change it to a blocking call on Army.

So, with 5.8 seconds remaining in a 46-46 game, the video replay moves ahead. Off to the monitors we go.

Woulda Coulda Shoulda

It didn’t have to play out that way.

The game was tied and possession was changing from the Leopards to the Black Knights with seconds to play.

However, coach Damon-Olson and staff elected to ask for an appeal at the dead-ball after the foul was called. It was one of several animated discussions with officials led by Damon-Olson down the stretch.

What would have happened next if there was no appeal?

Antognoli was called for a charge on her drive to the rim. The foul call is termed an offensive foul–which means it earns the defensive team possession of the basketball but not free throws. At worst, the game would have remained tied with 5.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter and Army with possession. One defensive stop and Lafayette is headed to overtime.

But as requested, the officials went to the monitor. What exactly were they looking for?

“Left foot. Right foot.

Feet. Feet. Feet.

Oh, how many

feet you meet!” –Dr. Seuss

By rule, the officials cannot review the block/charge call itself, just the location of the players involved. If Hall, as a help defender, didn’t rotate over and establish legal guarding position outside the arc, the officials would be able to reverse their charge call.

So the biggest question becomes: ‘where were Hall’s feet?’

But it’s not the only question—or the only feet–important here. The position of the offensive player when she initiated her move to the basket must be answered as well. If Antognoli began her movement to the basket outside of the lower defensive box, then the restricted area comes into play. The arc does not apply if the offensive move is initiated inside the box.

So what’s a lower defensive box?

The lower defensive box is defined in the rule book as: “an imaginary box designated by two tick marks on the end line and the second lane-space marks from the free throw line.” It’s about a 12-feet long box that extends from the baseline towards the free throw line and two-feet wider than each lane line.

Left foot. Right foot. Did Antognoli initiate her move outside that box? Yes. The replay demonstrated that fact. So the focus of the video review shifted to the secondary defender (Hall) and her position relating to the arc. Feet. Feet. Feet.

Were Hall’s feet outside the restricted area? Yes, by at least 12 inches of space. It was not a close call. The officials made the correct call and the appeal process worked as intended.

Unfortunately for Lafayette, there is no giant video board at Christl arena or perhaps they would have seen the clear evidence of the defender’s position before requesting the appeal. The play unfolded directly in front of the Leopards’ bench and may have offered an obstructed view with players from both teams and the officiating crew all occupying the half court in the tense final moments.

Why is that important? It’s important because unsuccessful appeals aren’t free.

Senior guard Natalie Stralkus led the Army attack with a game-high 18 points on six three-pointers. Army starters combined for just 15 points in the game. Stralkus led a bench effort that produced 35 points in the team’s 50-46 victory over Lafayette.
Photo credit: Army Athletic Communications

The price of an appeal

Following the unsuccessful appeal, Army took a timeout to advance the ball into the frontcourt and set up a final shot to win the game. The score was tied and there were 5.8 seconds on the clock.

As both teams came out onto the frontcourt for the dramatic final seconds, they were eventually ushered back by officials. Lafayette was being assessed an administrative technical foul. How did that happen?

When an appeal does not reverse the officials’ ruling, the coach’s team is charged a time-out according to Rule 5-14.1 in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 Women’s Basketball Rules Book.

Lafayette was out of timeouts.

At the time of the appeal request, the Leopards did not have any time-outs remaining for its appeal if it proved unsuccessful. Lafayette risked an administrative technical if the monitor review did not change the initial ruling. If the appeal results in a change in the officials’ ruling, no time-out is charged. The officials correctly issued an administrative technical foul.

How can a team appeal without a time-out? Levinson explains:

“When the appeal is not upheld, then it costs the team a timeout,” he told The Next. “The rules don’t require a team to have timeouts left to make an appeal. The cost is an administrative technical foul, two free throws, and play resumes at the point of interruption.”

What happened next?

Alisa Fallon stepped to the line for Army and calmly made both free throws and the game returned to its point of interruption—sideline out-of-bounds and Army possession with the Black Knights now leading, 48-46.

Following a successful throw-in, Fallon was fouled with 4.8 seconds and converted two more free throws for the final margin. Lafayette failed to score on its last possession and Army won a 50-46 thriller—with the deciding points coming at the free throw line.

What does it mean moving forward?

Army improves its conference standing and solidifies its position as a top-six team that can avoid the first-round of the league playoffs. With the win, the Black Knights are still well-positioned to fight for a top-four spot and a quarterfinal-round home game during playoffs.

The resolve Army showed down the stretch should be encouraging to first-year head coach Missy Traversi. While the offense has been slow to grow this season, Army locked up on defense against the Leopards and held them scoreless for the final 3:31 of the game. The Black Knights closed the game with an 11-0 run.

How will the loss impact Lafayette beyond the standings? The Leopards played a strong game on the road and without one of their top players in Jessica Booth who was out with an injury. It was an encouraging performance. But in those last three minutes, they lost focus on who their opponent was—Army.

Some losses are tougher to overcome than others, and this defeat might linger with Lafayette for a while. But if the Leopards can get healthy for the home stretch, they have a defensive unit capable of rebounding from the loss and putting together some wins.

Current Standings

(League record, overall record)

  1. Boston University (8-1, 12-8)
  2. Holy Cross (7-2, 13-7)
  3. Bucknell (6-3, 15-5)
  4. Lehigh (6-3, 14-6)
  5. American (6-3, 12-6)
  6. Army (5-4, 10-8)
  7. Lafayette (3-6, 7-11)
  8. Navy (3-7, 6-14)
  9. Loyola (MD) (1-8, 4-15)
  10. Colgate (1-9, 3-18)

What’s the can’t-miss match-up of the week?

The last time Bucknell and Boston University met on the court was nearly two years ago. Junior Maggie Pina was a freshman starter in that game. Photo credit: Kevin Murray

Boston University at Bucknell

Wednesday, Feb. 2 @6:00p.m.

The programs’ first meeting in two years is a must-see. The league-leading Terriers have scoring punch inside and out and look to put some distance between them and the third-place Bison.

Sydney Johnson leads the Boston scoring attack with 15.8 points per game while forwards Maren Durant (8.7) and Caitlin Weimar (7.8) lead the team in rebounding. Boston University has been at its best playing with pace but Bucknell will have to contend with an increased focus on post play as well. The undersized Bison will have to find a way to keep the Terriers off the glass and slow down Johnson’s dribble attack.

Both teams are efficient scoring teams and sit among the league leaders in shooting. The Terriers shoot at a 42.1% clip and Bucknell is close behind at 42.0%. Ball control will be a big factor in the outcome. The Bison are tops in the league in turnover margin while the Terriers sit dead last.

Expect Bucknell to play at a more deliberate tempo despite not matching up well with Boston’s size and length in the half-court. Taylor O’Brien leads the attack with 16.2 points per game, but the Bison will need their guard rotation to add some perimeter scoring to the attack to keep up if the pace starts to ramp up. Guards Marly Walls and Julie Kulesza are the ones to watch for unexpected scoring.

It’s the first meeting for Bucknell coach Trevor Woodruff and Boston’s Melissa Graves. The match-up of the Xs and Os are worth a close watch in terms of the game plan and in-game adjustments.

The last meeting: Feb. 29, 2020. The Bison won 55-53 in Lewisburg. COVID-19 has kept these teams from meeting for nearly two years. During the 2019-20 season, the programs split two tight, defensive battles with each team winning at home. The programs were on a collision course in the league playoffs when the season was suspended in the semi-final round. Last year, Bucknell was upset by Lehigh in the semi-finals and missed the chance to play the Terriers for the championship.

Although the Terriers are led by a different coach, they bring back familiar faces in Maggie Pina, Durant, and Johnson—each of whom started the last time these teams played. Bucknell’s lone returning starter from its unit is Taylor O’Brien.

Tune in to Patriot League action this week

(Note: All games are streamed through ESPN+ for a subscription fee. Click here for the video link to all league competition. All times are EST.)

February 1

American at Lafayette @6:00p.m.

Final: American 58, Lafayette 51

February 2

Army at Loyola (MD) @2:00p.m.

Boston University at Bucknell @6:00p.m.

February 3

Holy Cross at Lafayette @6:00p.m.

February 5

Army at Holy Cross @12:00p.m.

American at Colgate @2:00p.m

Lehigh at Boston University @2:00p.m.

Loyola (MD) at Navy @4:00p.m.

February 6

Lafayette at Bucknell @5:00p.m.

Patriot League Player of the Week

Sydney Johnson, Boston University, Junior Guard

  • Leads the Terriers in assists per game with 3.6 and added a team-high six helpers in a 59-45 victory over Colgate.
  • Averaged 20 points per game on a combined 15-for-30 shooting effort in a 2-0 week for the first-place Terriers.
  • Poured in a game-high 24 points, including four three-pointers, in a 67-57 win over Lafayette.

Patriot League Rookie of the Week

Graphic credit: Loyola Athletic Communications

Lex Therien, Loyola (MD), Freshman Forward

  • Led the Greyhounds to their first league win of the season with a jumper in the lane in the final few seconds of a 62-61 victory over Colgate. She scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
  • In a 1-1 week for her team, Therien added two more double-doubles to reach her team-leading ninth of the season. She leads her squad in scoring (12.1 ppg) and rebounding (10.5 rpg).
  • The rookie forward earns her fourth rookie honor of the season, matching Bucknell guard, Cecelia Collins.

League news and notes

  • Navy guard Jennifer Coleman continues to carry the Mids and is playing a league-leading 37.8 minutes per game. She is ranked third in the country in double-doubles with 15 and is scoring 23.1 points and grabbing 10.6 rebounds per game.
  • Coleman has also been named to the mid-season 15-member watch list for the 2022 Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year.
  • The Bison defense is the stingiest in the league. It’s limiting opponents to 36.3% shooting from the floor and allowing a league-best 53.8 points per game—good for 14th nationally.
  • Sophomore sharpshooter Mackenzie Kramer shot 8-for-15 from behind the arc for Lehigh in a 1-1 week. She scored 18 points in a key 67-62 win over Holy Cross to earn a split with the second-place Crusaders.
  • Bucknell freshman Cecelia Collins has reached double-digits in scoring 14 times this season. She’s second on the team in scoring at 11.6 points per game and is shooting 45.7% from the floor.
  • The Lehigh Mountain Hawks are tops in the league at the free throw line. They are shooting 76.7% from the stripe, converting 191-for-249.
  • Holy Cross sits at 25th in the most recent Women’s Mid Major Top 25 Poll from CollegeInsider.com. Lehigh and Bucknell are also listed as receiving votes.
  • Lafayette freshman point guard Abby Antognoli is stepping up for the Leopards. Over the last five games, the New Jersey native is playing 32.8 minutes per game and averaging 11.4 points a contest. In that span, she’s shooting 43.1% from the floor.

Written by Todd Goclowski

Todd Goclowski currently covers the Patriot League for The Next. Goclowski brings 25 years of coaching experience to his role as an analyst and writer, including 19 years of coaching women's basketball in the NCAA at the D1 and D3 levels.

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