On an afternoon that featured no upsets and no buzzer-beating endings, the story that stole the show was undoubtedly the officiating in No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 16 UNC-Asheville.
A missed goaltending call against Syracuse in the second half was egregious, wiping off at least two points from UNC-Asheville, but it still was nothing compared to what happened down the stretch. First, there was a lane-violation call on J.P. Primm that negated a missed free throw by Scoop Jardine, leading to two points from at the charity stripe.
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According to the rule, it was indeed a lane violation, although it could have gone uncalled without much notice.
A few moments later, Syracuse attempted to inbound the ball to Brandon Triche along the sideline. The ball went off his hands as he got knocked from behind, landing out of bounds. It was either a foul or off of Triche, clearly. The official, though, thought it went off of UNC-Asheville, granting Syracuse the possession.
The Bulldogs couldn't recover, falling late, 72-65.
“Tough calls down the stretch,” Primm said after the game. “In college basketball, sometimes you have to play everybody in the building.”
Head coach Eddie Biedenbach thought the bad calls had a direct effect on the outcome of the game, saying that Asheville outplayed Syracuse throughout the game and deserved to come out with a win.
“Tonight, we were better than Syracuse,” Biedenbach said. “These guys played their tail off for 40 minutes and played better than Syracuse. This is the better team tonight.”
After the lane-violation call, Biedenbach was clearly steaming and had a discussion with the referee about the call. In the post-game press conference, one reporter wondered what they were talking about.
“What do you think I was asking him?”
I think we know.