PITTSBURGH — Trailing by six within the second spherical of the NCAA match on Sunday afternoon, Illinois guard Alfonso Plummer stole the ball from Houston’s Jamal Shead and fed it ahead to teammate RJ Melendez.
Sprinting out in entrance of the closest defender, Melendez made the simple two-handed slam to chop Houston’s result in simply 4 with eight minutes, 40 seconds left within the second half of No. four seed Illinois’ matchup in opposition to fifth-seeded Houston. The group roared on the bucket, coming to life because the Illini tried to bounce again in opposition to the smothering, defensive-minded Cougars.
However as Melendez held on the rim to sluggish his ahead motion, a whistle blew, and the guard was assessed a technical foul by official Brian O’Connell for hanging on to the rim too lengthy.
Simply because it appeared the Illini would seize a bit momentum, it was snatched away as Houston’s Jamal Shead hit the technical free throw to stretch the result in 5.
“It is deflating,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood mentioned. “You make a play that modifications momentum of the sport after which to have that referred to as in that second? I am unable to wait to see it [on replay].”
Illinois acquired a bit nearer within the ensuing possession due to a three-point play by massive man Kofi Cockburn, but it surely wasn’t in a position to overtake Houston’s lead, falling to the Cougars 68-53 at PPG Paints Area.
Illinois was outscored 22-11 after the technical foul in opposition to Melendez.
Underwood mentioned after the sport the official informed him the foul should not have been referred to as, and the coach questioned if there was a private motivation to calling the foul.
“[O’Connell] informed me he ought to by no means have referred to as it,” Underwood mentioned. “Perhaps it is private, I do not know. To name it like that, when a child has a head of steam going 100 mph? All of us speak about well being and security of the student-athletes. Come on.
“After which to kill momentum like that? Horrible.”
Melendez mentioned the official did not provide him a proof for the technical, and Melendez mentioned he merely waited to get his legs underneath him earlier than dropping off the rim to forestall damage.
“I do not know what was the issue with that,” the freshman from Puerto Rico mentioned. “I used to be going full velocity in that transition, so I all the time desirous about Paul George’s damage, what occurred touchdown on the mat, on the rim. So I simply attempt to dangle on, go a little bit of rhythm, come again on each ft.”
In keeping with NCAA coverage, a pool report on the technical foul was not permitted as a result of explanations aren’t given for judgment calls on particular person performs.