Wednesday night at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Oakland ran out to an early lead over No. 16 Illinois. The Golden Grizzlies took advantage of poor shooting from the Fighting Illini to build an 11-point margin.â†µ
There was one problem, however: The teams were playing with a women's basketball for the first seven minutes of the game.
"After my first shot I thought, 'This can't be right,'" said [Illinois guard Demetri] McCamey.â†µ
Players on both sides complained to the officials about the ball during those first seven minutes, but to no avail. Eventually, during a break in play, Grizzlies guard Travis Bader convinced referee Mike Sanzere to take a closer look at the basketball. Upon realizing the teams were playing with a size 6 ball, a switch was made to the proper size 7 men's ball with just under 14 minutes remaining in the first half.â†µ
I've coached 33 years and that's a first," Oakland coach Greg Kampe said.â†µ
Kampe later joked that he wanted to keep the ball because the Grizzlies were ahead in the game. Even after the proper ball was brought in, Oakland hung tough with Illinois and had a 28-24 lead at halftime. But the Illini came back strong in the second half, going on an 18-0 run at one point, and eventually won the game, 74-63.â†µ
After the game, Illinois coach Bruce Weber explained that the mix-up occurred because a women's basketball game was the last event played at Assembly Hall and the game-ball racks had not been switched.â†µ