“I am disgusted that on a day we were all here to celebrate NEC men’s basketball, it was marred by the actions of fans who disrespected the game and the hard work these two teams put in to make it to the championship,” NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris said in a statement Wednesday. “Sports competition has to bring out the best in us. Unfortunately, we didn’t see that last night.
“We will be conducting a thorough investigation into last night’s incredibly disappointing events and beginning an immediate review of our game management policies to address this type of unruly and disrespectful fan behaviour.”
Play was suspended for more than 30 minutes late in the second half of Tuesday night’s NEC Championship game after a brawl broke out between fans in the stands at Bryant’s Chace Sports Center. The battle involved throwing punches and arming at least one drink.
Both teams were sent to their locker rooms while police and officials sorted out the situation and at least one fan was escorted out of the building before play resumed and top seed Bryant finished off a 70-43 victory over seed No. 2 Wagner to earn a trip to the NCAA Championship.
Bryant was in tight control at 68-32 with 4:37 remaining in the match, when play was interrupted by a fight in the stands behind Wagner’s bench. No players were involved, but Wagner’s Will Martin was sent off for leaving the bench and trying to attack in the stands. He was stopped by his teammates and the situation receded rather quickly after the players noticed what was happening.
The teams retained custody upon returning to the field, but with 2.6 seconds remaining, officials declared the match over so the court could make way for Bryant fans to storm it.
Bryant won the regular season one game over Wagner and won 13 of his last 14 games to close out the regular season. As the No. 1 seed in the NEC Championship, I freaked out in the semi-finals against her St. Mary’s Mountainescaped with a 70-69 win on Saturday, but sent a win statement and earned his first-ever ticket to the Big Dance at the Division I level.