On the final critical play of Georgia Tech’s overtime loss to Clemson, Georgia Tech felt it was wronged on an offensive foul call on guard Corey Heyward.
In overtime, Tech trailed 63-62 when it came out of a timeout with the ball and 35.2 seconds remaining. There were 27 seconds left on the shot clock. Early in the possession, Heyward attempted to execute a handoff on the perimeter to guard Trae Golden. However, as the two players ran towards each other, Heyward collided with Clemson forward Damarcus Harrison, who was guarding Golden and also running towards the handoff.
Both Heyward and Golden said they anticipated that Harrison would get called for the foul. Instead, referee Dwayne Gladden whistled Heyward.
“I felt like we got fouled,” Heyward said. “It was kind of a 50-50 play. It’s not our call, it’s the refs’ call and it went that way. But that’s basketball.”
A replay showed that Harrison and Heyward ran straight into each other and Harrison, giving up 16 points to Heyward’s stout frame, fell over. It easily be argued that Harrison should have been called for the foul, particularly given the emphasis this season on giving offensive players freedom of movement.
It would have sent Heyward or Golden to the line for two free throws and a chance to take the lead with 26.9 seconds left. Instead, with the foul called on Heyward, Harrison made both free throws for a 65-62 lead. Golden missed on a drive on the next possession, forcing Tech to foul again. Clemson’s Landry Nnoko made both free throws for a 67-62 lead with 17 seconds remaining to seal the game.
Coach Brian Gregory said he was given an explanation of the call from an official, but “the explanation did not suffice.”