Court lighting at the Cajundome turned red with five seconds to go in a game between the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday, and it likely cost Little Rock the game.
Trojans guard Markquis Nowell took the ball up the court with his team down 66-64 and 12.8 seconds left on the game clock. The lights turned red, leaving the arena greatly darkened, but the game went on. Officials didn't stop play in the moment, nor did they review the circumstances after the fact, and Louisiana-Lafayette survived with a 66-64 victory in a game that had Sunbelt Conference implications.
As reported by Sports Illustrated, once the arena lighting switched, Little Rock forward Ruot Monyyong scrambled for a frantic three-pointer well behind the line, only for it to hit the rim. The red lights came on again, this time after the final whistle — as is traditional at the arena.
According to Andrew Doughty of SI's Extra Mustard, there’s no indication it was a deliberate attempt to hurt the visitors but the game wasn’t stopped when the lights came on, nor was time added after the buzzer. In fact, as Little Rock head coach Darrell Walker went ballistic, the officials didn’t even discuss the play. They didn’t discuss it amongst themselves or with the coaches and/or arena staff.
“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," read a statement from the Sun Belt. "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.”