Five NCAA Tournament games were decided by one point on Thursday, but none was more controversial, perhaps, than No. 11 UCLA’s 60-59 win over No. 6 SMU.
With SMU leading 59-57 in the final seconds, senior center Yanick Moreira was called for goal-tending on a three-point attempt by UCLA sophomore Bryce Alford. The infraction gave UCLA a 60-59 lead, and Nic Moore – who finished with a team-high 24 points for SMU – missed two jumpers in the final sequence, as the Bruins pulled off the upset.
Sporting News and Big Ten Network analyst Mike DeCourcy was on hand for the action in Louisville, so we have to ask: Did the ref get it right? Did Moreira actually commit a goal-tend?
“It was an unfortunate goal-tend,” DeCourcy said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “There was no way around that. The odds of that ball going into the basket were about one in a million, but it was clearly going to strike the rim and the ref can’t judge at that stage how cleanly it’s going to strike the rim or what direction it’s going to go. So he had no choice but to call the goal-tend.”
Alford finished with 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting from three-point range, while Moreira – a 6-11, 220 pounder from Angola – had six points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
“(He) went up – and we’ve all seen guys do this,” DeCourcy said. “You go up and you’re trying to be aggressive and you get up there and then you realize, ‘Hey, if I go after this ball, it’s going to be a goal-tend.’ This one was as tough a decision as anybody’s ever had to make because it was so close to not being a goal-tend. It was so close to him just grabbing the rebound and taking it and then winning the game, but it just didn’t work out that way. It’s so unfortunate.”
DeCourcy said Moreira was “broken up” about the play after the game.
“He came to the U.S. from Angola, a great success story,” DeCourcy explained. “And yet, (he) faces a difficult end to his college basketball career that had gone so beautifully, with SMU winning the regular season and the conference tournament in the American and (coming) very close to moving on to the second round here.”
Unfortunately for Moreira, goal-tending is not a reviewable play – which DeCourcy is okay with.
“I’m not a big review person,” DeCourcy said. “The football people would also say that it should be reviewable, but it’s a judgement call, so it’s a lot like pass interference. I don’t think we necessarily need more review. I suppose you could say if we’re going to review out of bounds, why can’t we review this? But again, even if they had reviewed it, I think they would have settled on the call that they did. Video replay showed that the ball was going to strike the rim, and we would have had the result. It just would have taken a little bit longer to get there – and we take long enough to get to the end of some of these games, I’m not sure sure that we need more.”
UCLA (21-13, 11-7) plays No. 14 UAB (20-15, 12-6) in the Round of 32 this Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET, with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16.