Published January 06. 2013 4:00AM
When it's like this, a basketball game anyone, even the most ardent hater of women's basketball would have enjoyed, you want to channel your inner Helen Reddy. Hear them roar.
Notre Dame and UConn played a classic Saturday at Gampel Pavilion. All the ingredients: boisterous crowd, high-level skills, big shots, big plays, drama. Not bad for January.
Remember, though, this is women's basketball. That means there was another omnipresent element to the game which continues to hover like cigarette smoke at the casino.
The officials struck again.
And in a more egregious way than what we usually see.
It begins here: Notre Dame won, 73-72.
But what if Notre Dame only actually scored 72?
We'll never know. Because Dee Kantner, the lead official, was either too confident or too arrogant to review a three-point shot late in the game.
Inexcusable is one word to describe it.
Really inexcusable is another.
The play in question: Notre Dame's Michaela Mabrey made a long jumper with 4:19 remaining that gave the Irish a 68-67 lead. Before the ball left her hands, I watched her feet. I said: "That's a two." So did Carl Adamec of the Manchester Journal-Inquirer who was seated next to me. The play happened near the Notre Dame bench directly across from where we were sitting.
It certainly looked as though Mabrey's foot was on the three-point line.
It certainly looked close enough to review.
The UConn coaches believed the same thing and inquired.
Kantner told them, quite assuredly, her foot was behind the line.
After the game, Keith Anderson, UConn's assistant director of video services, watched the play again on a laptop with Patrick McKenna, the assistant director of athletic communications. McKenna said the replay was "inconclusive," but "really close."
McKenna said the quality of the replay was grainy on a laptop, but would have been more conclusive with the assistance of the technology made available to the officials at courtside. They could have seen the play in higher definition and different angles.
The officials partook of the technology earlier in the game to change a three-point shot awarded to Bria Hartley and decided it was a two-point shot.
And there's some reason they couldn't have reviewed Mabrey's alleged three?
The evidence says it was very close.
Isn't this why the technology exists?
Instead, we're supposed to accept Kantner's word as gospel?
I appreciate the way Kantner's controls a game. But she got too full of herself here. I'm not sure of her spot on the floor when Mabrey launched the shot. But it might not have been as clear as mine. I know what I saw.
If I'm wrong, I'll be the first to say so.
But in a one-point game with four minutes left and an ensuing media timeout, there is no excuse whatsoever not to use the technology that's available.
"I have no idea," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said when asked why the play wasn't reviewed. "I know they reviewed Bria's."
To reiterate: A point in this game was crucial given the final margin.
To reiterate: Please try to stay on point here. Spouting opinions about why UConn lost is a perfectly reasonable exercise. But it's not relevant to this topic.
This is about an official's irresponsible act that changed the way the rest of the game was played.
Their job is to get it right. I don't care what Kantner saw or thought she saw. There is no harm in stopping the game to make sure the call is right. That's their job. And she blew it.
Quite a week so far at UConn. The Karl Hess All Stars neither knew nor applied a particular rule at Marquette. Whether that cost UConn the game is open to debate. But the officials' ignorance was inexcusable.
Just as Kantner's behavior was Saturday.
We can debate the penchant in women's basketball to call touch fouls 40 feet from the basket, while allowing Mixed Martial Arts in the post. We can debate block/charge. We can debate judgment calls until the John Birch Society endorses Obama.
But what we can't debate is a failure to review a shot - for no reason - in a nationally televised, one-point game.
Dee Kantner and her crew need to be disciplined. Same with Karl Hess and his crew. Incompetence and arrogance are a bad combination.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.