Women’s Basketball: Northwestern sunk by bizarre clock error in loss to No. 23 Iowa


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

Freshman guard Jillian Brown. Brown snagged a crucial rebound with 3.9 second left against Iowa, but the ensuing fast break never counted because of a clock error.

Kyle Leverone, Assistant Sports Editor

You could never imagine how long 3.9 seconds might feel.

With the game tied at 61, Iowa decided to hold for one shot. Coming off of a pick-and-roll with Monika Czinano, Caitlin Clark took it and missed. And as Northwestern’s first-year guard Jillian Brown grabbed the rebound with 3.9 seconds left, time seemed to stop.

There were 3.9 seconds left on the clock when they started the fast break. 1.8 seconds were showing when Laya Hartman laid the ball in on the other side of the court to take the lead 63-61. Either someone had just broken the world record for the 94-foot dash across the court, or a mistake had been made. 

No world records were broken tonight, and the Wildcats suffered a 72-67 overtime heartbreak to the No. 23 Hawkeyes. 

The game’s clock operator had inadvertently paused time when Brown grabbed the rebound — but no one stopped playing. Iowa ran back on defense. NU pressed on with their fastbreak. Nevertheless, the rule for such an event calls for the referees to take out their manual stopwatches and time how many seconds really went off the clock from the point of stoppage until they realized the mistake. 

About five seconds had passed since stopping the clock at 3.9, so Hartman’s game-winning layup was disqualified. Instead of replaying from the spot of the rebound, the rule states that five more minutes of basketball were to be added onto those 3.9 seconds. This time, Iowa came out on top. 

“As far as what happened at the end of the game, I don’t know,” coach Joe McKeown said. “I’ll have to find out tomorrow. It feels like there’s a lot to be sorted out right now and explained.”

As for the other 39 minutes in the game, NU did all it could to stave off Iowa for a second consecutive season sweep. The Wildcats held a top-three scoring team in the nation whose top scorers, Clark and Czinano, are top-15 national scorers to only 61 points in regulation. 

NU handed away a third-quarter 14-point lead, but when Clark (28 points) and Czinano (24 points) combine for 85% of their team’s points in regulation, it’s hard to maintain any sort of momentum. 

“Defensively, we did a great job,” McKeown said. “We fought really hard, and part of me feels like we deserved to win that game. But again, you’ve got to finish. Whether it’s the extra five minutes, we had a chance to maybe build on that lead, but we couldn’t do it.”

NU went into the game riding a three-game win streak against Iowa but dragging a three-game losing streak on the season. The Hawkeyes stamped out their misfortunes, but the Wildcats continue to struggle.

Now, having slipped to 3-5 in the Big Ten and with its postseason hopes hanging in the balance, NU needs to turn it around before time runs out on this season.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @KLever0ne15

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