The Tar Heels dodged a major bullet on their way to capturing the National Championship Monday night.
With 53 seconds left, North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks and Gonzaga’s Silas Melson were on the floor fighting over a rebound when referee Mike Eades called a held ball. Photos and replay later revealed that Meeks’ hand was actually out-of-bounds with his other arm around the ball.
Eades missed the call and North Carolina kept possession up by one. They’d go on to go up by three, 68-65, on the ensuing possession with 26 seconds left.
Had Eades called Meeks out of bounds, Gonzaga would’ve gotten the ball down by one with 53 seconds left.
Instead, the Tar Heels used it to help lock up their sixth NCAA Championship with a 71-65 win.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few said he “had no idea” that Meeks’ hand was out-of-bounds on the play.
“I just, from my angle it didn’t look like it was a situation where there was an out-of-bounds situation or I else I would have called for a review.” Few said. “So that’s tough. It’s tough to hear. But, you know, that’s just the way it goes.”
It doesn’t matter that Few didn’t see it as the the NCAA rules suggests the play would not have been able to be reviewed.
While refs weren’t available for comment when the issue became known, NCAA spokesman David Worlock, national coordinator of basketball officials JD Collins said the play was not reviewable.
The refs were highly criticized for their overall officiating as well.
There were 44 fouls called that slowed the pace of the game and even had LeBron James complaining.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams came to the referees defense following the contest.
“It’s a very difficult game to call. I’m sitting over there, I’m not thinking the officials are doing a terrible job,’’ Williams said. ‘‘I’m thinking our offense stinks.”
Williams won his third National Championship as head coach of the Tar Heels while helping the team get redemption for their loss to Villanova in the 2016 National Championship game.
With News Wire Services