- Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.
Troy coach Chanda Rigby said a missed call late in Monday’s 84-80 loss to No. 2 seed Texas A&M cost the No. 15 seed Trojans a shot at a historic upset in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Troy was making its fourth tournament appearance and looking for its first win. A No. 15 seed had never won in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Texas A&M led 82-80 with 4.5 seconds left and was inbounding the ball in the front court. Kayla Wells’ pass bounced off the fingertips of teammate Destiny Pitts, who then chased after it, gained possession and dribbled into the backcourt. No over-and-back violation was called as the officials deemed Pitts didn’t have possession in the frontcourt.
Instead, Pitts was fouled and hit both free throws with 2 seconds left to give the Aggies the winning margin.
No Troy player touched the ball on the disputed inbounds pass. Rigby said she thought it was a violation, which would have given Troy possession.
“It just looked like she touched it and it went backcourt. It just looked very evident that that happened,” Rigby said. “We were seeing if we could get the call corrected, but that’s just not the way it went. We had all the momentum at that point. If we would have gotten that call, I don’t think there’s any way we would have lost the game. I don’t think the will of my players would have allowed us to lose.”
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said he hadn’t seen a replay, but the issue was about control of the ball.
“I didn’t know if we had control of it,” he said. “I think that’s why [the referee] didn’t call it. But I cannot say for sure. If she did have control of it, it was an over-and-back. If she didn’t have control of it, it was a good call.”
Even if the call had gone Troy’s way, though, the Trojans still would have had to inbound the ball and try to score in the closing seconds. But Rigby’s frustration also came from two other calls in the final minute that went against the Trojans.
With 54 second left, Troy’s Tyasia Moore made a shot after contact with defender Jordan Nixon, which would have tied the score at 79-79 and sent her to the line. Instead, Moore was called for a foul, her fifth. Then with 30 seconds left, Troy’s Alexus Dye was called for her fifth foul as Nixon drove into the lane.
In all, the Trojans were called for 25 fouls to the Aggies’ 13.
“As great of a team as Texas A&M is, the No. 15 seed had them on the ropes for a very long time,” Rigby said. “Their burying us deep in the post hurt us. I knew if we put them on the free throw line in the fourth quarter, it was going to be hard to beat them. It seemed like we just kept getting called for foul, after foul, after foul. Our two most experienced players fouled out, and that made it tough. But we kept battling.”
Blair said he thought second-half turnovers took a toll on Texas A&M, but they still moved on. They will face No. 7 seed Iowa State in the second round Wednesday.
“They had an open 3 to go ahead, and they didn’t make it,” he said of Troy’s miss from behind the arc with 19 seconds left. “That’s life sometimes. But the officials overall, I thought they did a pretty good job. It wasn’t that, it was just a hard-nosed ball game.”
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