Syracuse reserve center Baye Keita rejected a potential game-tying shot with six seconds left, helping to preserve a 63-61 win for the Orange. But the win came with controversy, as officials appeared to miss a goaltending call on the play.
The play started with 26 seconds left, and the Orange clinging to a 63-61 lead. West Virginia guard Darryl Bryant missed everything on a contested 3-pointer, but Deniz Kilicli grabbed the offensive rebound and went back up for a layup. Keita appeared to block the ball against the backboard, which would be a textbook goaltend.
The West Virginia bench thought as much as they screamed for a goaltend call. But no such call came.
“My instinct was to go block the shot,” Keita said. “If the ref missed it, good for us.”
Not good for West Virginia.
“I saw the replay,” Huggins said. “I know it was (a goaltend).”
SU forward Kris Joseph was able to corral the rebound momentarily, but then lost the ball off his leg, giving West Virginia one more chance.
“When Kris got the ball I don’t know what he was thinking,” Boeheim said. “I don’t know, I have no clue. He just has to hold the ball and the game is over.”
Instead, the Mountaineers had one more chance.
On the inbounds play, Jabarie Hinds drove down the lane and kicked it out to Kevin Jones, who was perched on the 3-point line. But—like the Bryant 3-pointer that preceded it—the Orange defense forced a difficult shot, and the potential game-winning 3 was long, ending a wild last few plays.
“We had to stay out on the shooters,” Joseph said. “If anything, we were going to take overtime.”
Fortunately for Syracuse, that never happened.
Corey Mallonee contributed to this story with reporting from Syracuse.