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With the ball under its own basket, three seconds to go, trailing by one point, Southern Utah State figured it had a good chance for the winning shot against Weber State Saturday afternoon. The worst the T-Birds could do would be to miss a last-second shot, right?

Wrong. The T-Birds never got the ball inbounds. They were called with a rare 5-second violation, turning the ball and the ballgame over to Weber State 66-65 Saturday afternoon in the Dee Events Center.The call perturbed SUSC Coach Neil Roberts, who admits that the Weber game is one of the biggest on his team's schedule every year, seeing how everyone else in the state is not willing (read: afraid) to play them.

"That was an awfully quick 5-second call. Holy cow," said Roberts afterward. "Dee Burton (the official who made the call) and I have had a problem ever since I coached in high school. When he showed up I knew we were in trouble."

According to Roberts, his team was trying to run their No. 2 inbounds play, which takes a few seconds to develop. He figured they were about three seconds into it when the whistle blew. Here's how Roberts described the play:

"We take the two guys in the middle, send the guy to the corner, split the middle, back the guy up and if he doesn't go we readjust. We were trying to take the ball inside to create a foul or an easy shot. If not it kicks to the outside and then we re-enter again."

Roberts, who took considerably more than five seconds to describe the play, said his team got to the "readjust" part when the whistle blew.

On the other end, Weber Coach Denny Huston credited his team's defense.

"That was the same out-of-bounds play they'd run so far. We did a nice job of stopping it."

Actually, both teams had plenty of chances to win prior to the final three seconds. Neither team scored in the last minute of the game, missing a combined six straight free throws and one field goal.

After blowing an 11-point halftime lead, the Wildcats had come back to take the lead with 1:00 left on a free throw by Anthony McGowan, the guy with an "A" shaved out of his his hair in front. McGowan grabbed an offensive rebound after a free throw miss by teammate Jerry McIntosh, who had tied the score at 65 with a free throw.

McGowan, who later said he was shooting with one eye after having his contact lens dislodged a couple of minutes earlier, fired up a free throw that bounded off the glass but somehow managed to creep around the rim and fall in.

"That was the ugliest foul shot in history, but it went in and won the game for us," said McGowan.

His second shot missed, but he was somehow able to come up with the ball. That gave Aaron Bell a chance to extend the lead, but his foul shot with 45 seconds missed.

The T-Birds came down with instructions from their coach to shoot at about the 8-second mark, but Roger McDonald apparently didn't get the message and fired up an 18-footer at the 30-second mark.

Weber's Tony Nicholas was the next player sent to the foul line, but he missed with 26 seconds left. After calling a timeout with 12 seconds left, SUSC set up for the final shot.

With five seconds left, center Richard Barton was fouled in the act of shooting. But Barton, a 78-percent shooter on the year, missed both shots, the second one appearing to go halfway down before popping out.

"It didn't bother me at all to have him on the line," said Roberts. "Even though we had four guys fouled out, I'd have liked to go to overtime because I felt things were going our way. But I guess it wasn't to be."

The loss dropped SUSC to 4-5, while Weber, which had lost to three in-state schools already, evened it's overall record at 4-4

The T-Birds were in trouble right from the start with their leading scorer (19 ppg) and floor leader Kelvin Lee out with a sprained ankle. Lee didn't start and tried to play for about five minutes, but obviously couldn't. The T-Birds shot just 32 percent in the first half, while Weber, which was playing its third game in four days, shot 57 percent in taking a 34-23 lead.

In the second half, SUSC's seldom-used guard Rick Roberts, who happens to be the coach's son, started firing in 3-pointers, most from several feet beyond the 3-point line. He made four in all and his final one brought the T-Birds within one at 52-51.

Then it was all William Allen, a transfer from Fullerton State, by way of College of Eastern Utah, who had become eligible two games ago. Allen put the T-Birds ahead with a three-point play and proceeded to score 12 of the team's final 14 points. However, he fouled out with 1:02 left and the T-Birds had nowhere to turn.

Weber's Jerry McIntosh, who tied Allen for scoring honors with 16 points, scored five straight points to forge a tie at 65-all, prior to McGowan's free throw and the scoreless final minute.

Michael Ostlund, who directed the Weber attack for all 40 minutes, added 14 points, while Roberts had 12 and Wade Wyatt, a transfer from Utah, scored 11 before fouling out.

The game was played in the afternoon to allow Weber's players time to catch flights for their four-day Christmas vacation. Most of the Wildcat fans must have been shopping or something, since a mere 2,332 showed up, which included a vocal contingent of SUSC fans.

"We said before the game we had to win and that this game would either make or break our Christmas," said McGowan. "We haven't been playing well. I think this will get us back on track now."