Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Mustangs keep their cool

In the box score, it went down as nothing more than Northern Arizona guard Riley Van Patten’s third personal foul late in an 82-60 blowout loss to Cal Poly.
But for the 1,467 fans on hand for Tuesday’s men’s basketball game in Mott Gym, it was a noteworthy play that shouldn’t go overlooked.
It happened with just under six minutes remaining and the Mustangs leading by almost 30 points (it was 71-42 to be exact).
The play starts with a loose ball at midcourt in a game that’s been out of reach since halftime, but players are still hustling and even leaving their feet to save the possession.
One thing leads to another and there’s an NFL-like pile taking place in the middle of Mott Gym.
During the scrum, some players are battling for position while others are pulling players off each other thinking the play was dead.
But no whistles are being blown, or at least none are being heard, so Cal Poly forward Dreshawn Vance, Van Patten and others continued to scrap for the prized Spalding.
Some pushing takes place. Some words are exchanged. Players on both benches rise to their feet. But in the end the three officials are able to restore order just as fans are having flashbacks of Saturday’s Nuggets-Knicks melee (see video below).
Maybe Saturday's Fight Night at Madison Square Garden -- which also occurred late in a frustrating blowout loss and resulted in 10 ejections and thousands of dollars in fines -- was on the minds of the players too as cooler heads prevailed and nothing more than a few dirty looks were exchanged.
After a brief delay, the officials agreed no blows were thrown and only Van Patten was whistled for a personal foul.
No technicals. No ejections. No “brawl ball” headlines in Wednesday’s paper.
Hey, maybe there was some benefit from Saturday's brawl after all.

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