Pittsburgh basketball star Charles Smith and several other Panthers pointed fingers at Coach Paul Evans after the Panthers, despite holding a three-point lead with four seconds left in regulation, had lost to Vanderbilt, 80-74, in overtime in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Midwest Regional Sunday at Lincoln, Neb.
Pitt was seeded second in the Midwest and was the only team with a No. 1 or No. 2 seeding to be eliminated in the tournament’s first two rounds.
Evans said at a postgame press conference that freshman guard Darelle Porter was supposed to foul Vanderbilt’s Barry Goheen before Goheen threw in a desperation, last-second three-point shot that sent the game into overtime. Goheen had given the Commodores a chance to tie the game with another three-pointer just five seconds earlier.
But Smith, Sean Miller and Demetreus Gore said that during a confused huddle just after Goheen’s first three-pointer, nearly all the Pitt coaches were talking at once and none of them specifically told Porter to foul.
“We were never told,” Miller said.
Smith said: “No one knew what to do, that was the problem. No one knew. There’s no way we should have lost a game that we were leading by three with five seconds left.
“I’m not putting the blame on anybody. It’s a group. But anybody who knows basketball knows where the fault lies.”
Evans said Porter was told to foul Goheen “but couldn’t keep up with him.” Porter said he didn’t know what to do because of the tremendous confusion in Pitt’s huddle.
“In the huddle, both of them were being said, ‘Foul! Don’t foul!’ ” Porter said. “I don’t know what was said last. It was just a miscommunication. I didn’t know I was supposed to foul him. I remember him saying it, but I just missed the assignment. There was more than one person talking.”
Freshman guard Jason Matthews said: “There was a lot of noise in the huddle. A lot of coaches were talking. Some of them were saying foul, some of them weren’t. He didn’t know whether to foul or not.”
Added Gore: “He was never told to foul him.”
Pitt assistant coaches Norm Law and Mark Coleman said it was mentioned in the huddle about committing a foul, but they weren’t certain if the players fully understood their assignments.
Immediately after the timeout, Vanderbilt fouled Smith, who made two free throws, pushing Pitt’s lead to 69-66 with four seconds left. Pitt had three timeouts remaining but didn’t call one, thus allowing Goheen to dribble down the sideline uncontested to launch his tying shot.