Non-call against DiJonai Carrington defines UConn-Baylor masterpiece
You be the judge.
The conclusion of the UConn-Baylor game Monday evening came with controversy, as the No. 1-seeded Huskies emerged with a razor-thin 68-67 victory over the second-seeded Bears.
After Baylor ran out to a 55-45 lead with 2:13 left in the third quarter, UConn scored eight unanswered, and the Bears entered the final frame with a 55-53 lead.
From that point, it was a back-and-forth battle for the ages, and with 18 seconds left in the game, Baylor had possession, with the Huskies clinging to a 69-67 lead.
Then this happened:
Baylor's DiJonai Carrington drove left into traffic and attempted to put up the potential game-winning jump shot over UConn's Aaliyah Edwards and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. The shot came up well short, UConn got the ball and made one more free throw, and Baylor was not able to get a shot up on its final possession.
After the game, all anyone could talk about was Carrington's drive: Was it a good defensive play by UConn, or was she fouled?
In the postgame media conference, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey gave reporters a quote while not really giving reporters a quote.
Carrington backed her coach.
LeBron James also backed Mulkey and Carrington.
James wasn't the only person with an opinion on the call, and UConn coach Geno Auriemma even had an opinion on James' opinion.
Auriemma also gave his overall take on the nature of sports and officiating: "It is what it is."
Auriemma and Mulkey are known for bringing the heat as competitors, and so are Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe. On Tuesday's "Undisputed," they dove into the controversy regarding the ending of UConn-Baylor.
Sharpe said that no matter the moment in the game – first quarter or final seconds – the play should have ended with a foul call.
"It was a missed call. The young lady got fouled. DiJonai Carrington should have went to the free-throw line. ... That's a foul all day."
Carrington finished the night shooting 7-for-22 from the field and 7-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Just 15 seconds before the play in question, with UConn leading 68-65, Carrington hit two free throws to cut the Huskies' lead to one.
To Bayless, however, Monday's non-call was more about the stature of the players than the contact of their bodies. He pointed out the height difference between Carrington and her defenders.
"Once [Carrington] went up to shoot, here's the problem with the call: I don't see any contact with her hand or arm. One arm gets through and grazes the side of her face, and that's where you could've called the foul. But I don't think they make contact there.
"They didn't go straight up, but they're so much taller. [Carrington's] 5-foot-11, and [Edwards and Nelson-Ododa] are 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-5. ... She couldn't get it off because she was just completely suffocated by long arms."
Bayless also said at that point in the game, referees aren't inclined to determine the outcome with a whistle.
"It's hard to make that call to decide a big game."
Foul or non-foul, UConn is moving on to the Final Four for the 13th straight season, looking to win Auriemma's 12th national title, while Mulkey and the Lady Bears are forced to turn their attention to next season.
As Auriemma said, it is what it is.