Women’s Elite 8 games played with mismatched 3-point lines

The 3-point line for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament At the Moda Center, there was a yardage discrepancy on each end of the court that went unnoticed for four games over two days before Texas and North Carolina State were made aware of the problem before their Elite Eight matchup on Sunday.

The teams’ coaches agreed to play Sunday’s game as scheduled with inconsistent 3-point lines rather than delay it, the NCAA said in a statement. NC State defeated Texas 76-66 to advance to the Final Four.

“The NCAA was informed (Sunday) that the 3-point lines on the court at the Moda Center in Portland are not the same distance. NCAA staff and members of the women’s basketball committee on site have consulted the two head coaches who were informed of the situation. “All parties chose to play a full game on the field as is, rather than correcting the field and delaying the game,” said Lynn Holzman, vice-president. president of NCAA women’s basketball, in a statement.

Holzman said all lines will be measured after practice ends Sunday night and the correct markings will be on the floor before Monday’s game between Southern California and UConn.

“While the NCAA vendor has apologized for this error, we will investigate why this occurred in the first place. The NCAA is currently working to ensure the accuracy of all field markings for the next few games,” Holzman said. “We are not aware of any other issues at any of the previous venues for matches in the men’s or women’s tournaments.”

Connor Sports makes March Madness floors for men and women.

NC State vs. Texas
Workers measure one of the two three-point lines and their various measurements after the Elite 8 round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament between NC State Wolfpack and Texas Longhorns at the Moda Center on March 31, 2024 in Portland, Oregon.

Steph Chambers/Getty Images

“We apologize for the error that was found and have technicians on site at the Moda Center in Portland who were tasked with making the necessary corrections immediately following (Sunday’s) game,” the company said in a statement .

The court issue was another distraction for the NCAA during a women’s tournament in which play was outstanding but other issues took center stage.

A referee was removed from a match at halftime of the first round. Utah was the victim of racist harassment before its first-round game. Notre Dame’s Hannah Hidalgo was forced to remove a nose ring and missed time during a Sweet 16 loss to Oregon State. LSU coach Kim Mulkey threatened to sue the Washington Post over a then-unpublished profile of her and later denounced a Los Angeles Times columnist for what she called sexist criticism of of his team. The Times edited the column in response.

And now the Portland court problem.

“I hate to say this, but I have a lot of colleagues who would say, ‘Only in women’s basketball,'” Texas coach Vic Schaefer said. “I mean, it’s a shame that it happened. But it is what it is.”

Four Sweet 16 games on Friday and Saturday were played without any of the participating teams publicly saying anything about a problem with the field.

During pregame warmups, Schaefer and NC State coach Wes Moore were informed that the distance on the 3-point line at the top of the key was different on both ends of the court. The distance from the top of the key to the 3-point line was too short at the end in front of NC State’s bench, while the line at the end at Texas was OK, Moore said.

NCAA officials were asked to measure the distance and brought out a measuring tape about 15 minutes before the announcement. After discussions between NCAA representatives, coaches and officials, the game went ahead as scheduled.

A delay would have taken at least an hour, both coaches said, because it would have required bringing in an outside person to scout the field and could have forced the game to be broadcast on ABC.

“It’s a big deal to be on ABC,” Moore said. “We’ve been fortunate to participate in it several times over the last few years. But it’s a big deal.”

NC State vs. Texas
Mallory Collier and Zoe Brooks of the NC State Wolfpack celebrate after defeating the Texas Longhorns 76-66 in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament at the Moda Center on March 31, 2024 in Portland, Oregon.

Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Both coaches said their players were unaware of the discrepancy, and NC State’s Aziaha James in particular had no problems, making a career-high seven 3s on nine attempts. The NCAA said the field would be corrected before Monday’s Elite Eight game between Southern California and UConn.

“In the end, we had already played a game and we both won, so we decided to play,” Schaefer said.

Although the NCAA did not provide details, a 3-point line near the top of the key appeared to be about 6 inches closer to the basket than on the opposite end of the floor. The NCAA 3-point line is 22 feet 1 3/4 inches for women and men.

The numbers showed that players struggled with the line too close to the basket.

Through five games, teams shooting late from the nearest 3-point arc was 25.8% (23 of 89) on 3s. At the end of the field it was okay, the teams shot 33.3% (29 of 87).

“These kids shoot so far behind, sometimes these days, who knows where the line is?” » Moore said. “It’s an unusual situation. But, like I said, I don’t know if it was an advantage or a disadvantage, either way.”

Baylor coach Nicki Collen, whose team lost to USC in the Sweet 16, posted on social media that with eight teams at one site, the focus was on the game plan and not on the appearance of the terrain.

Baylor was 6 of 14 on 3-pointers in the second half while shooting at the end of the court with the correct arc.

“I guess that’s why we shot better in the second half,” Collen posted.


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