Friday, February 10, 2012

When points are scored after the clock hits zero

Every once in a while, we get a high school or small-college basketball report with the game-winning points being scored on free throws with no time on the clock.

I've always wondered how that can be. The foul had to have come before the clock hit zero, otherwise it would have occurred after the game was over. Putting a couple tenths of a second back on the clock might seem inconsequential. But it's when the foul occurred, not what happens after.

The answer, courtesy of college basketball statistical expert Ken Pomeroy, who has officiated games, involves courtside TV monitors for referee reviews -- or the lack of them in non-televised games:

"Yes, you can have free throws with no time left. It doesn't happen in games with a monitor any more, but in old times and in high school there is allowance given for the reaction time of the person running the clock, so a whistle blown right before the buzzer will result in free throws administered with 0:00 left."

I don't know why I didn't think of that, because it also happens in televised games in which officiating crews don't use automatic timers to stop the clock. But now I know.

- Howard Primer


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