Cal coach Ben Braun thought the whole thing was horse-bleep.
The Golden Bears' season took an even more sour turn Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion on the final day of the Pac-10 Conference regular season when Shipp dropped in a shot from behind the right corner of the backboard with 1.5 seconds left, giving No. 3 UCLA its first lead since 2-0 and saddling Cal with a bitter 81-80 defeat.
Afterward, no one was sure if Shipp's shot was even legal -- Rule 7, Section 1, Article 3 of the 2008 NCAA Rules & Interpretations suggests otherwise. "The ball shall be out of bounds when it passes over the backboard from any direction," the NCAA's online manual said.
Bill McCabe, the Pac-10 supervisor of officials, confirmed to a pool reporter two hours after the game that a shot that goes over the backboard is illegal.
After speaking to game officials about the ball's trajectory, McCabe said, "It comes right over the corner. The officials said it was too close to call."
Braun's complaint wasn't even directed at the winning shot.
He blamed the Bears' fifth consecutive defeat on a non-call with 15.7 seconds left, when UCLA aggressively double-teamed Ryan Anderson on an inbounds pass after a double-clutch 3-point shot by Kevin Love brought the Bruins within 80-79.
Eric Vierneisel passed the ball to Anderson in the left corner, where he immediately was swarmed by Russell Westbrook and Shipp. Westbrook had
All three players tried to get a handle on the loose ball, and when it went out of bounds, the referee signaled UCLA possession. TV replays from multiple angles were inconclusive as to which player last touched the ball.
"Ryan Anderson was fouled to stop the clock. He was fouled," Braun said. "They instructed their players to foul him. And they fouled him. And (the officials) didn't call the foul.
"I watched (the replay) three times. Nothing changes my mind that it was a missed call."
Said Anderson, "We're inbounding the ball, they're supposed to foul. They clearly tackled me. Maybe not tackled, but they hit me, and I fell to the ground."
At that point, controversy was just beginning to gain a head of steam.
UCLA inbounded to Darren Collison, whose shot was blocked by Jamal Boykin, the ball going out of bounds with six seconds left. Shipp got the ball on the subsequent inbound and dribbled the right baseline against Vierneisel's tight defense.
"The guy cut me off," Shipp said. "I was trying to get on the (front) side of the backboard. I was forced to shoot from the other (back) side. It was one of those h-o-r-s-e shots."
None of Shipp's teammates disputed that the ball sailed over backboard.
"I didn't think it was going to come down to throwing it over the backboard to get it in," Love said. "But hey, we'll take it."
"I was looking at it and thought, 'Aw dang, it was going over the backboard,' " UCLA senior Lorenzo Mata-Real added.
A Cal spokesman said later that Braun asked officials about the shot and was told it was not subject to review.
The final scene spoiled perhaps the best performance of the season by the Bears (15-14, 6-12), who had won just once in seven previous games to slide into ninth place.
Cal never trailed after the opening 21/2 minutes, leading by as many as 11 points in each half against the Bruins (28-3, 16-2), who have won three straight Pac-10 regular-season titles and are expected to be a No. 1 seed next Sunday when NCAA Tournament pairings are announced.
"We outplayed UCLA," Braun said.
Boykin, who equaled his career-high with 18 points, said he and his teammates had no doubt they were going to win. But he said the outcome will fuel them Wednesday when they return to Los Angeles for the Pac-10 tournament.
"One, it gave us confidence that we can play with any team," Boykin said. "Two, it's put a rage in us. I've never seen guys on this team this mad after a loss."
Anderson, who scored 21 points, certainly was seething.
"That game was just ours," he said. "It's just sad to see it went away the way that it did. Honestly, it's a game we can actually say we can't blame ourselves."
Contact Jeff Faraudo at firstname.lastname@example.org