A controversial goaltending call on a three-pointer with 13 seconds remaining gave No. 11 seed UCLA a 60-59 win over No. 6 SMU in the NCAA tournament's Round of 64 on Thursday. The Bruins' Bryce Alford, who had already made 8-of-10 from beyond the arc, took a shot from the left wing, and the Mustangs' Yanick Moreira reached up and deflected the ball as it neared the rim.
Replays were unclear as to whether the ball would have actually hit the rim had he not touched it, but the outside official ruled it a three-pointer. After a brief review, SMU had two chances to try and win but both of Nic Moore's shots missed, and UCLA escaped with a one-point victory to advance in the South Regional.
Afterward, John Adams, the NCAA's national coordinator of men's basketball officiating, appeared on TruTV's postgame show and attempted to shed some light on what happened. "I don't know how you know it wouldn't hit the rim and somehow bounce up and find its way in....In the opinion of the referee the ball was prevented from getting cleanly to the basket."
The game probably shouldn't have even come down to that play. The Mustangs had a 59-52 lead with just 1:26 left after UCLA's Norman Powell accidentally dribbled the ball off his foot at midcourt, leading to a dunk by SMU's Ryan Manuel. But an Alford three-pointer cut the deficit to four and two Powell free throws with 26 seconds to go made it 59-57. SMU turned it over, giving the Bruins a chance for an improbable victory. They went to Alford and he delivered his ninth triple of the game, though it never even went through the net.
UCLA was one of the biggest surprises of Selection Sunday, with many feeling that the 20-13 Bruins didn't deserve an at-large bid. They drew former UCLA coach Larry Brown, who was coaching in the NCAA tournament for the first time since winning the 1988 national championship at Kansas.
The Bruins built a 34-30 halftime lead and eventually stretched it to double digits early in the second half as the Mustangs made just 1-of-12 to start the period.
But with 11 minutes left in the game and UCLA leading 44-34, SMU came alive. The Mustangs ripped off a stunning 19-0 run led by Moore, whose back-to-back threes cut the deficit to 44-41. Another three by Moore, who finished with a team-high 24 points, gave SMU its first lead of the second half, and the lead would stretch to nine before it was UCLA’s turn at a comeback.
Alford made three straight three-pointers to bring the Bruins within four with a minute remaining. He was the hero of the day for UCLA, pouring in a game-high 27 points. Powell added 19.