Sports

Madness! UCLA beats SMU on goaltending call

Louisville, KY (SportsNetwork.com) - One thing's for sure: Yanick Moreira's right hand was in the wrong place.

Whether or not the goaltending call that sent UCLA to a dramatic win over SMU in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday was warranted seems to depend on the angle of the replay.

Or who you play for.

Or root for.

Or work for.

Or, perhaps, had in your office pool.

"I never saw a game end like that," said 74-year-old SMU coach Larry Brown.

Even the NCAA's coordinator of officials couldn't say for sure whether or not the heaved 3-point try by UCLA's Bryce Alford had a chance to go in, though he seemed to lean toward trusting the officials on the court.

Goaltending isn't a reviewable play under NCAA rules.

"I don't know how you would know if it had hit the rim that it wouldn't have bounced up and somehow worked its way in," John Adams, the coordinator, said on the studio show that followed the game.

Either way you see it, Alford's 3-pointer with around 13 seconds remaining was counted and 11th-seeded UCLA escaped with a 60-59 win over sixth-seeded SMU to move into the third round of the South Region against UAB, which upset No. 3 seed Iowa State earlier Thursday.

Alford was 9-of-11 on 3-pointers for a game-high 27 points and Norman Powell added 19 for UCLA (21-13), which was one of just 10 teams selected for the tournament with at least 13 losses.

Nic Moore scored 24 to lead SMU (27-7) and had a chance to give the Mustangs the win, but missed a 3-pointer, then a long jumper at the buzzer as confusion mounted over the call at the other end of the court.

SMU was playing in the tournament for the first time since 1993 after being snubbed last season despite being ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll.

The Mustangs climbed back into the game with a 19-0 run in the second half that gave them a 53-44 lead with 4 1/2 minutes remaining. Alford got UCLA back in it with a trio of key 3-pointers -- not counting his controversial winner.

"I've been on both sides of this," said UCLA coach Steve Alford, Bryce's dad. "I know exactly what the coaching staff at SMU and their players are feeling, and that's not a good feeling because it's -- I thought we had control of the game. They made a terrific run. I'm sure they thought they had control of the game.

"We were able to win that last two minutes. I've lost a game in the tournament with a guy making his first 3 throwing it over his shoulder. So I've been on both sides of it, and it doesn't make the pain go away any more. But I think both teams can hold their head up high."

There was some debate about whether or not Alford's shot, which he threw up from the high left side with two defenders in his face, hit the rim before Moreira got his hand on it.

From the overhead camera angle, it sure looked like Moreira touched the ball after it hit the rim.

"I don't know if it would have gone in or not," Bryce Alford said, "but he definitely grabbed it on the way."

A clearer angle from the side seems to show Moreira touching the ball as it sailed past the front of the rim. Either way, the 6-foot-11 senior blamed himself for the loss.

"I thought I had the ball in my hands," Moreira said. "I didn't know the ball hit the rim. So when I jumped, I said, like I hit the ball. It's all my fault. I should have let the ball hit the rim. I take the blame on myself. I shouldn't have made that mistake. As a senior, you can't make those mistakes at the end of the game."

Reactions poured in on social media and the controversy was sure to grow even further, highlighting an early slate of sensational games as the tournament got underway in earnest.

"Yep that was a goaltend," reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant tweeted.

Adams, who is retiring next month, was asked whether or not the NCAA would consider making goaltending a reviewable call. He said some rules are impacted or changed based on what happens in games, but making goaltending reviewable hasn't been one of them.

"There is no movement yet" to get the rule changed, he said.

SMU hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since 1988, when it beat Notre Dame in the first round as a No. 7 seed. Brown's Mustangs topped reigning NCAA champion Connecticut to win the American Athletic title on Sunday.

Brown, who said he was feeling sick, coached UCLA to the NCAA Tournament in his only two seasons coaching the Bruins in 1979-80 and 1980-81, losing to Louisville in the championship game the first year.

Game Notes

UCLA is 3-0 in the all-time series ... The Bruins are making their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 47th overall ... UCLA led 34-30 at halftime ... Moore was 6-for-11 on 3-pointers ... Kevon Looney had a game-high 10 rebounds for the Bruins ... UCLA committed 18 turnovers, twice as many as SMU.