On Tuesday night, the Bryant boys’ basketball team knocked Wagner out of the Northeastern Conference Championship game, sending the Bulldogs to the first NCAA Tournament in school history.
Unfortunately, that won’t be the pristine memory the people of Smithfield, Rhode Island will have.
With the game down to 4:37, a massive fan fight right behind Wagner’s bench ensued, causing the game to be delayed with Bryant leading 36, for half an hour. ESPN’s camera crew only switched to the wide angle of the live melee after a commentator mentioned the fight on the air, switching from a close-up shot of Bryant’s sprawling bench during the standoff, look through shoving, shoving and punching.
Sitting just behind Wagner’s bench were Seahawks fans who made the trip from Staten Island to Rhode Island for the title game. Much of the rest of the stand was made up of student Bryant. It is unclear what directly started the brawl. While both teams are back their dressing room, lState and state police officers rushed into the fray, placing dozens of fans on the field.
At 2:33 in the ESPN video, centered in the chaos, a man in a USA T-shirtThe soccer jersey was clearly punched in the face and shocking for a few minutes, before his nose starts bleed. Several Wagner players had to be restricted from participating in the fight, including Will Martinez, the Seahawks guard, who attempted to participate in the biggest brawl and was kicked out of the game. No players from either team entered the stands.
According to WPRI in Rhode Island, a 20-year-old man was arrested following the incident and charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing a law enforcement officer. Per Rhode Island State Police, that individual was transported to police headquarters where he was sorted and released. The person’s identity has not been revealed.
Before the game resumed, Bryant’s athletic director Bill Smith addressed the crowd, stating that they could not storm the field, as is customary for middleweight tournaments when advancing to the NCAA Tournament, for came after Wagner’s players and coaches had left the floor. As the game continued, both teams ran the clock without incident on the field with the competition results in hand. Most of Wagner’s fans were also escorted out of the building for the 4:37 finale. The NCAA and NEC have yet to comment on the situation, with conference summary from the game not even Referring to the fight.