> WATCH Mick Cronin's post-game news conference in the video player above.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin says the Bearcats were robbed by the clockkeeper and the referees in their four-overtime loss in the American Athletic Conference tournament Friday.
And the video shows he was right.
"I felt we won the game and the game was taken away from us," Cronin said angrily to open his post-game press conference after the Bearcats' heartbreaking 104-97 loss to UConn.
The Bearcats thought they won the game at the end of the third OT, when Kevin Johnson hit a 3 with eight-tenths of a second left to put UC ahead, 75-72. But UConn's Jalen Adams took the inbounds pass, somehow took two steps in eight-tenths of a second and two-handed a 60-foot buzzer beater that bounced off the backboard and went in.
The "somehow" was the thing Cronin was mad about. Video clearly showed the clock didn't start until Adams took two steps after catching the inbounds pass, but the no-call stood.
Cronin said it was obvious to him and it should have been obvious to the refs.
"In point-eight you can't catch the ball, take two steps and then shoot it," Cronin said. "You can't catch it, turn, bring it below your waist and then shoot it with enough force to shoot it 80 feet in point-eight seconds.
"The clock didn't start nearly on time. I've already watched it five times, so it's unfortunate that that happened to my kids."
Of course, there might have been a different ending if the Bearcats had gotten back on defense after Johnson's big 3. But they were still celebrating and nobody checked Adams or defensed the inbounds pass on the baseline.
"I feel bad for the guys, one because the game was taken away from them - if the clock starts and goes off when it should have gone off, the game is over - and then if the people watching the replay would have handled it correctly, the game is over," Cronin said.
Cronin congratulated UConn - "They made a lot of great shots," he said. And he criticized his team's defense - "Our defense wasn't need what it needed to be. We made a lot of mistakes we don't usually make."
But he never backtracked on his criticism of the clock fiasco.
"In defense of my kids, I'm obviously upset," Cronin said. "But even moreso because there's guys playing injured, we got guys making big-time plays ... I was proud of them. They deserved better."