Michigan coach John Beilein tries to plead his case with referee Lewis Garrison during the first half. (Photo: John Beale, AP)
University Park, Pa. — Losses for Michigan have been hard to come by this season.
Even rarer? Michigan coach John Beilein being tossed from a game.
Both happened during a bizarre, strange night at Bryce Jordan Center where Beilein was ejected for the second time in his 44-year coaching career in Tuesday’s 75-69 loss to Penn State.
It all unfolded at the end of the first half when Beilein argued with the officials over a possible missed moving screen that knocked junior guard Zavier Simpson down and freed up Penn State’s Rasir Bolton for a buzzer-beating layup.
Beilein, 66, was hit with successive technical fouls and, as a result, was ejected from the game. The only other time that’s believed to happen to Beilein is when he was a 26-year-old head coach at Erie Community College in New York.
“I haven’t been thrown out of a game since I think it was 78-79. It’s 20 years before most of you were born,” Beilein said. “And you know me, I very rarely ever get a technical. I’ll deal with the league office going forward and see what I can do differently.”
Beilein declined to elaborate on what led to him getting after the refs and what the topic of discussion was at the end of the half but said having to watch the second half from the locker room was “painful.”
Michigan coach addresses the two technical fouls at the end of the first half that led to him getting tossed out of Tuesday’s 75-69 loss at Penn State.
James Hawkins, The Detroit News
“Yeah, I’m not going to say anything, that would not be good,” Beilein said. “There will be some pretty interesting discussion with the Big Ten office. What I will say is you guys know I don’t get upset with officials.”
Assistant coach Saddi Washington, who replaced Beilein after halftime, confirmed the ejection was regarding the non-call on Simpson on the final possession.
“It’s one of those bang-bang things,” Washington said. “I thought X did a good job of guarding their guy. That call could’ve went either way if it was an illegal screen. They didn’t call it, they scored on it and then what happened, happened.”
Washington added he was surprised how quickly Beilein received both technicals because while he was fired up, he was trying to get clarification on the last play of the half.
“I think you guys have been around long enough to know Coach Beilein and the latitude a guy in his position should get after a questionable call,” Washington said. “At the end of the day, we’re here to compete.
“There are a lot of plays that we can look back on and say what determined the outcome. But certainly, I think Coach Beilein has built up enough equity in this league and across the country that he’s able to share his opinion and then everybody moves on.”
But that wasn’t the case Tuesday. The two technical fouls led to four free throws for Penn State (9-15, 2-11) and the Nittany Lions made three to push their lead to 43-27 at the start of the second half.
“I mean that shows he cares for us,” redshirt junior wing Charles Matthews said. “Coach put his reputation on the line. Coach B is basically a saint in the basketball world. For something like that to happen shows that he was really frustrated, and he cares. And he blamed himself after the game and it had nothing to do with him. It was our fault.”
The Wolverines (22-3, 11-3) put up a fight in the second half and pulled within four points three times in the final 8:21, including twice in the last 34 seconds before time ran out.
“(The ejection) wasn’t what determined the game,” Washington said. “I thought we could’ve came out with a little bit more focus to start. No one singular play is going to determine it, especially that early in it. Obviously losing coach that’s a big deal, but I think our staff did a good job of trying to hold down the fort and make a run at it in the second half.”
Penn State held a decisive edge in the rebounding battle, 35-25, and finished with 12 offensive boards that led to 11 second-chance points.
While Beilein noted the Nittany Lions had a couple fortunate bounces and had success with their guards crashing the glass, Matthews said it had everything to do with effort.
“Clear as day,” he said. “You can see it from the beginning. It was all effort.”
… Michigan busted out a 2-3 zone for one possession late in the first half. It was quickly shelved after Penn State missed a shot but managed to get the offensive rebound.
“We couldn’t stop (Lamar) Stevens. We had Iggy (Brazdeikis) in foul trouble and he was taking advantage of (Jon) Teske,” Beilein said. “We thought we would try it. May see it again.”
… Penn State snapped an eight-game losing against Michigan and recorded its first win in the series since Feb. 27, 2013, when the Wolverines were ranked No. 4 in the nation.