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Was North Carolina A&T robbed Thursday in the first round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament?

It depends on whom you ask.Florida A&M coach Willie Booker, whose Rattlers escaped with an 87-77 win over the Aggies before a small crowd at the Scope, thought the officiating was superb. A&T coach Don Corbett, whose team was slapped with a crushing technical foul in the final minute of what was a two-point game, didn't think the officiating was good at all.

``That's the first time I've seen that call in college basketball,' Corbett said. ``I want to say officially, the officiating was the worst I've seen. I don't give a ----. I'm tired of protecting people. It was terrible!'

The call came with 53 seconds remaining and Florida A&M leading 76-74. Glenn Taggart had drained a 3-pointer and the Aggies attempted, although unsuccessfully, to call a timeout. After FAMU inbounded the ball, Rattler center DeLon Turner fumbled it out of bounds, seemingly giving A&T possession and a chance to tie. That's when the officials slapped Corbett and / or the Aggie bench with the technical foul.

``They (the referees) said the assistants were out of the box at the scorer's table,' Corbett said. ``That's very difficult to accept considering everybody's been up all night long. It was a two-point game with the ball coming back our way. That's a helluva call! It went from two points to six points before we touched the ball again. It just killed us.'

Booker saw the officiating differently.

``They had a different crew in here today and it was a sharp crew,' he said. ``They were really into the ball game. They didn't get into fraternizing or talking with Corbett. They didn't do that. They just called the game. They did a heck of a job. They told my assistants to sit down and I made them sit down because I didn't want us to get a technical. That was one of the better officiated games I've seen this year.

``I have no idea why (A&T was charged with the technical),' Booker added. ``All I know is it was great. I was hoping they'd do it again whatever it was. He (Corbett) must have been trying to intimidate the officials. I don't really get into the officiating that much. I just try to let them do their job and not get them antagonized where they start looking for fouls to call on me.'

A&T never recovered. Kenneth Davis hit both free throws, and, after the ball was inbounded, Reginald Finney drew a two-shot foul. He hit both. FAMU went on to outscore A&T 6-3 in the last 40 seconds, giving the Rattlers a deceptively wide margin of victory.

``We'll never know what might have happened if we had gotten that timeout and if we didn't get that technical,' Corbett said.

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