It was the cheap shot heard around the world. Late in a basketball game between two Division III schools in Massachusetts on Tuesday, Nate Tenaglia of Nichols College sank a wide-open three pointer. The ball had hardly cleared the net when Kewan Platt of the home team Fitchburg State delivered a forearm to the face of an unsuspecting Tenaglia.
Division III schools offer some of the fiercest competition in all of college basketball. Games between small school rivals will not be aired on ESPN or CBS like the top college basketball programs in the country, but that doesn’t mean that the games do not run without a high level of emotion.
It’s one thing for grizzled NHL players to drop the gloves in a classic hockey fight, or feisty NBA players throw down in a brawl, but it’s shocking to witness collegiate athletes sucker punch one another.
On Tuesday night, Nichols College played Fitchburg State in what everyone thought would be a low-key game. However, one cheap shot changed everything and a sucker punch from Kewan Platt would put tiny Fitchburg State on the national map.
Tiny Schools in MA
Fitchburg State is a small school with approximately 5,000 students located close to the New Hampshire border. Unfortunately for the school, this is the first time many people are hearing about the school.
Nichols College in Dudley, MA is located approximately 20 miles south of Worcester along the Connecticut border. Nichols is even smaller than Fitchburg State with an enrollment of 1,200.
Corner Cheap Shot
At the time late in the game, Nichols College led by ten points. The incident originated when Kewan Platt airballed a three-pointer, but argued with the referee that he was fouled. There was no call and Platt ran down the court. A play was finishing up when Nate Tenaglia found an open spot in the corner behind the three-point line. His teammate found a wide-open Tenaglia, who knocked down the three pointer. But Platt subsequently knocked down Tenaglia.
Platt glanced over to see if the referee was not looking and then delivered a forearm blow to the face of Tenaglia. Another official saw the cheap shot and whistled Platt. At the time, Platt was ejected. He had received a technical foul earlier in the game and the second technical was grounds for immediate expulsion.
Here’s a different angle that really shows the downright dirtiness of it all:
This is disgusting ? pic.twitter.com/D8xihwFmwT
— Overtime (@overtime) November 14, 2018
Tenaglia bounced back after the cheap shot and drilled both of the free throws. After the game, Tenaglia was evaluated for a concussion and tests revealed he was fine.
Nichols would go on and win the game 84-75. Nichols spokesman Pete Divito explained that good defense was the key to sparking the incident. Platt was frustrated with Tenaglia guarding him well all night.
“The best we can gather was that it was frustration. There was no real setup to this,” said Divito. “We’re happy it didn’t escalate into a brawl.”
A stunned Tenaglia did not retaliate after the cheap shot. Most of the Nichols players didn’t see the incident, so they weren’t sure what they were reacting to.
The cheap shot video went viral overnight and by the morning, school officials at Fitchburg State acted swiftly. They suspended Kewan Platt from school and barred him from campus. School officials are reviewing the incident. According to a statement by the university, Platt could face further sanctions. Platt could also possibly criminal charges.
Fitchburg State athletic director Matthew Burke said, “The Fitchburg State community is appalled by the conduct displayed during Tuesday night’s home basketball game. The player involved has been indefinitely suspended from the team and barred from campus, effective immediately. His behavior is antithetical to our community values and good sportsmanship. Fitchburg State does not tolerate behavior that violates those standards. The case is being reviewed at the student conduct level for consideration of further sanctions.”
Nichols College athletics director Chris Colvin released a statement, “We were troubled by the unfortunate incident that occurred at Tuesday evening’s men’s basketball game at Fitchburg State University. The Nichols College student-athlete involved was able to complete the game, and we continue to monitor his health. We are proud of the way our student-athletes handled the incident and that they did not allow it to escalate. We are aware that the Fitchburg State administration is handling the matter.”