The melée erupted with just over 10 minutes left in the first half, as Carpenter and Fernandez converged to steal a bounced ball from Carpenter’s teammate Tanahj Pettway. As the two grappled, Carpenter wrapped his right arm around Fernandez’s midsection.
It’s unclear exactly what occurred, but it seems that in trying to get out of Carpenter’s grip, Fernandez inadvertently hit him with his elbow or upper arm. Carpenter reacted by laying a devastating right hook to the middle of his opponent’s face, sending Fernandez to the floor.
New Mexico State player Robert Carpenter lands a right hook on Liberty’s Shiloh Robinson.
Carpenter was ejected, and should face suspension. pic.twitter.com/3XgsxGfc2Q
— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) February 2, 2024
Robinson was helped off the court by training officials as he held his face in pain. He would not return to the game. Robinson was hit with a technical foul and immediately ejected from the game.
At a post-game press conference, Aggies coach Jason Hooten said he expects Carpenter to be suspended for his actions. He sincerely apologized to Liberty’s coach, Ritchie McKay, calling Carpenter’s outburst “not acceptable.”
"That's not the way that we're going to do things here at New Mexico State University," Hooten said. Admitting that Carpenter is "a really good kid,” he stipulated, “there's just no room, no room for that in the game, at all."
"My rule is he won't play on Saturday," Hooten said, adding that Carpenter might be hit with a longer suspension once officials properly review the footage.
Robinson is a senior at Liberty University, a private Christian institution in Virginia. So far this season, he has averaged 5.2 points per game.
Carpenter, a junior, has previously played with St. Bonaventure and Mississippi Valley State.