Surviving 'The Foul'

RALEIGH, N.C. – While Marcus Paige's driving game-winner with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime elicited equal parts elation and agony, depending on your side of the aisle, the emotion of choice for Leslie McDonald was undoubtedly relief.

It appeared as though Paige had won the game in regulation with a pair of free throws and only 3.6 ticks left on the clock. Trailing 71-69 and standing some 85 feet from the basket, N.C. State point guard Tyler attempted to inbound the ball to T.J. Warren above the opposite 3-point line with 1.5 seconds remaining.

Before the ball ever arrived, referee Les Jones whistled McDonald for a dead-ball foul. Instead of attempting a contested 25-foot game-winning 3-pointer, Warren was awarded a chance to force overtime at the free throw line.

"I felt like we had the game won and made one of the silliest fouls I've ever seen in my entire life," UNC head coach Roy Williams told reporters following his team's 85-84 overtime victory.

Watching live and again in replay confirmed plenty of contact as McDonald sought to prevent Warren from playing hero at PNC Arena.

"You know who they are going to and you don't want him to have an open shot," McDonald said sitting at his locker. "So I tried to front him, had my hands up. We got tangled a little bit. I guess he was trying to get position. I was standing my ground and we got tangled a little bit and they called a foul on me."

McDonald, a fifth-year senior, expressed disbelief on the court immediately following the whistle, and while maintaining his innocence on the play during his postgame interview, he acknowledged that lingering on the call served no purpose.

"The call was the call," McDonald said. "There's nothing you can do about it. The refs felt like I fouled him, so there's nothing you can do about it. I was upset, but at the end of the day, they were shooting free throws."

Warren, of course, sent the game to overtime by converting both of his free throw attempts. Paige's game winner, however, offered McDonald a reprieve, albeit not without some quips from his teammates following UNC's 10th-straight victory.

"We had a couple things go our way, a couple things not," Paige said. "The refs did a pretty good job; it was pretty balanced for the most part. I know Leslie might disagree, but that was a fun game."

 

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