Controversial goaltending call lifts UCLA over SMU

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Someone bailed out UCLA's Bryce Alford on a 3-point attempt that ended-up winning the game for the 11-seeded Bruins on Thursday, it's just not clear whether it was Southern Methodist's Yanick Moreira or the officiating crew.

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Moreira was called for a goaltend on a shot that clearly looked off-line from the son of UCLA coach Steve Alford. In the official's judgment, that means that the SMU player interfered with the ball when it was in the cylinder, but the controversy stems from whether Bryce Alford's ball was in the cylinder in the first place. The play could not be reviewed, officials said after the game.

Here is footage of the play, which gave UCLA a 60-59 lead with 11 seconds left, a lead the sixth-seeded Mustangs could not overcome despite two shots in the closing seconds.

And here's a still shot of the call in question:

 
 

After the call, SMU's Nic Moore got two good looks at 3-point buckets in the closing seconds of the game, the first a clean shot from the left of the arc, the second off his own rebound. But neither would go.

CBS play-by-play announcer Verne Lundquist was skeptical of the goaltending call as it was made, and the postgame studio analysts spent at least 10 minutes debating whether the ball made contact with the rim, which would have been necessary for the goaltending call. 

Here's the official NCAA goaltending rule, via the Arizona Republic's Doug Haller:

In the postgame press conference, according to multiple reporters, Moreira took blame for the game's outcome. "It's all my fault," he said. 

The Bruins had been criticized entering the contest as a team that did not deserve to make the field of 64. They finished their regular season with a 20-13 record, including a dismal 2-8 record on the road and 2-4 record on neutral courts. Their only had one win over a ranked opponent.

Now, UCLA is one win over Alabama-Birmingham away from a Sweet 16 appearance, which would be only the third of coach Steve Alford's entire career. UAB was one of two 14-seeds to pull off upsets Thursday, downing Iowa State in the day's first upset.