University of Arkansas at Little Rock men's basketball Coach Darrell Walker saw red twice Friday night in Lafayette, La.
The first time came when the dark vermilion lights inside the Cajundome flashed on with seconds remaining during the Trojans' final possession of a 66-64 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. The second occurred when Ruot Monyyong's three-point attempt -- launched in the midst of the chaos -- clanged off the rim, signifying a fraught conclusion as Walker stormed onto the court where he was restrained while arguing with the referees.
"The light[s] went out with about seven seconds on the clock and everybody froze," Walker said. "It is what it is. We'll just see what happens and what the [Sun Belt Conference] commissioner does."
Over two and a half hours after the confusion, the Sun Belt released a statement acknowledging that the referees did not handle the incident correctly.
"Unfortunately, the last few seconds of the Little Rock at Louisiana men's basketball game this evening were not managed properly by the officiating crew," the statement read. "Play should have been immediately stopped when an issue with the arena lighting occurred. The crew should have awarded Little Rock the ball out of bounds with five seconds on the clock to complete the last sequence. Regrettably, this did not occur.
The late drama heightened when the lights inside the Cajundome turned off with Trojans (6-4, 2-1 Sun Belt Conference) guard Markquis Nowell standing just past midcourt.
The arena went dark with five seconds on the clock before the lights returned with just over three seconds remaining. Pressed by the Louisiana-Lafayette (8-2, 2-1) defense at the top of the key, Nowell passed to the 6-10 Monyyong, whose three-pointer hit the front of the rim.
As the final buzzer sounded, Walker stormed onto the court with his hands in the air. When referee Keith Patterson signified the game was over, Walker ran toward the three referees on the floor before being restrained by Nowell and assistant coach Charles Baker.
"There was no explanation on the floor, just that the game was over with," Walker said. "I'm not going to get into it. We lost. We'll move on and get ready for the next game."
The frantic final seconds closed a tense battle, as the Trojans fell in their opening league road contest. There were 17 ties, 13 lead changes and neither team led by more than five points.
Monyyong tied the game at 64-64 before Cedric Russell (12 points) made two go-ahead free throws with 1:09 remaining.
Monyyong scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, while teammate Nikola Maric led with a game-high 18 points before fouling out. Nowell scored just two points in his return from a two-game disciplinary absence.
Despite the size of Monyyong and Maric, who each found themselves in foul trouble, UALR was beaten on the boards by the Ragin' Cajuns 40-30.
Louisiana-Lafayette's Theo Akwuba pulled down 13 rebounds to go with 12 points.
The teams will meet again at 4 p.m. today.
ARKANSAS STATE 54, TEXAS STATE 53
Junior forward Trinitee Jackson hit a layup with 15 seconds to play as the Arkansas State Red Wolves held on to defeat Texas State at First National Bank Arena in Jonesboro.
Morgan Wallace, who had the assist on Jackson's game-winning shot, led Arkansas State (6-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) with 12 points while adding nine rebounds. Jireh Washington scored 11 points, and Jackson finished with 7 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Texas State (4-4, 1-2) had a chance to regain the lead, but Kennedy Taylor's shot with :06 showing was off the mark and Jackson came down with the rebound.
ASU led 52-42 after Washington's layup with 5:29 remaining, but the Red Wolves missed their next four shots while the Bobcats went on an 11-0 run.
Taylor and Lauryn Thompson each scored 11 points for the Bobcats.
Arkansas State was 17 of 45 (37.8%) from the floor and 15 of 24 (62.5%) from the free-throw line, while Texas State hit 21 of 62 (33.9%) of its shots from the floor and 8 of 13 (61.5%) from the line.