No. 8 Northwestern was rolling.
They were on a 23-8 run, having trimmed what was once a 20-point deficit down to just five. There were five minutes left in the game, and the collective hope of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Doug Collins and 75 percent of the sports journalism world was going to be enough to lead the Wildcats to the miraculous upset.
And then this happened:
A dunk attempt by Dererk Pardon was blocked by Zach Collins, according to the officials, but Collins had actually blocked the shot by putting his hand up through the rim. It’s quite clearly a blown call by the officiating staff — one that was confirmed in a release by the NCAA on Saturday evening — and to compound their error, the ref closest to Northwestern head coach Chris Collins lit him up with a technical foul when he protested. (Collins earned the tech by running on the floor, but he was justified in being angry.)
Instead of a bucket that would have cut Gonzaga’s lead to three points and continued to add game pressure on a team that doesn’t exactly have the best reputation of being able to handle game pressure, Gonzaga got a pair of free throws and was able to push the lead back to ten points two possessions later. Northwestern never threatened again, and Gonzaga went on to win, 79-73.
It was a brutal break for the Wildcats, one that I’m sure Mark Few isn’t going to complain about, as the Zags avoided bowing out of the tournament in the second round, which was the fate the program suffered the last time that they were a No. 1 seed.
Nigel Williams-Goss led the way with 20 points for the Zags, while Zach Collins chipped in with 14 points, five boards and four blocks off the bench as the Zags advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third straight season, where they will face No. 4 seed West Virginia.
Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.
He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.
Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.
The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.
Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.
SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.
The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.
Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.
South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.
The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.
Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.
A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.
Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.
Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.
Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.
The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.
Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.