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NCAA says wrong 3-point line for Portland women’s regional drawn by court supplier

Arc was about 9 inches shot of regulation at apex at one end of court

By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Sports Writer
Published: April 1, 2024, 3:31pm
2 Photos
Texas and North Carolina State play during the second half of an Elite Eight college basketball game in the women's NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Portland, Ore. The 3-point line for the women's NCAA Tournament at Moda Center had a discrepancy in distance at each end of the court that went unnoticed through four games over two days before Texas and North Carolina State were informed of the problem ahead of their Elite Eight matchup on Sunday.
Texas and North Carolina State play during the second half of an Elite Eight college basketball game in the women's NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Portland, Ore. The 3-point line for the women's NCAA Tournament at Moda Center had a discrepancy in distance at each end of the court that went unnoticed through four games over two days before Texas and North Carolina State were informed of the problem ahead of their Elite Eight matchup on Sunday. (AP Photo/Tim Booth) Photo Gallery

The NCAA said Monday one of the 3-point lines on the court used for the women’s basketball regionals in Portland, Oregon, was about 9 inches short of regulation at its apex, a mistake by the contractor that makes the courts used throughout March Madness.

The line on the court at Moda Center was corrected, the NCAA said, ahead of Monday night’s UConn-USC game to determine the final spot in next weekend’s Final Four. But not before five games had been played on it, the first four with the mistake unnoticed.

“What happened with the court in Portland is inexcusable and unfair to every team that played on it,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, whose team lost in Portland, said in a statement to The Associated Press. “When you arrive at a gym, especially in the NCAA Tournament, at the very least you expect the baskets to be 10 feet and the floor markings to be correct. For an error of that magnitude to overshadow what has been an incredible two weekends of basketball featuring sensational teams and incredible individual performances is unacceptable and extremely upsetting.”

The NCAA uses Connor Sports to supply and install the courts. The NCAA said the marking used to draw the line at the top of the arc in the center of the court was too short. It did not identify the contractor that made the mistake.

“For all NCAA courts, a small hole is punched in the floor at each end of the court that indicates ‘center-of-basket’ during the finishing process. A calibrated vinyl-tape device is then placed in the hole, which lays the 2-inch game line to be painted,” Lynn Holzman, NCAA vice president for women’s basketball, said in an email to members.

After reviewing the Portland court, it was found that the center hole was punched about 9 inches short of where it needed to be at the apex of the 3-point arc.

“Connor Sports and the NCAA found the inaccurate line was the result of human error by the finisher contracted by Connor Sports,” Holzman said. “The review also found the sides of the 3-point line were accurately painted, as were all other court markings.”

The discrepancy in distance was discovered Sunday before Texas and North Carolina State played their Elite Eight game. Four games already had been been played over two days with the mismatched 3-point lines.

Coaches for Texas and N.C. State agreed to play as scheduled with one line shorter than the other rather than delay the start. N.C. State beat Texas 76-66 to advance to the Final Four.

The NCAA 3-point line is 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches at the top of the arc for both women and men.

“We apologize for this error and the length of time for which it went unnoticed,” Holzman said. “Simply put, this court did not meet our expectations, and the NCAA should have caught the error sooner.

“We will work with all of the NCAA’s suppliers and vendors to establish additional quality control measures to ensure this does not happen in future tournaments.”

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This women’s NCAA Tournament has broken records for television viewership, driven by the popularity of Iowa All-American Caitlin Clark, other stars such as LSU’s Angel Reese, UConn’s Paige Bueckers and USC’s JuJu Watkins, and the dominance of undefeated South Carolina.

But the games at times have been overshadowed by controversies and off-the-court issues. The NCAA had to replace one official at halftime when it was discovered she had a degree from one of the schools whose game she was officiating, and Notre Dame star Hanna Hidalgo missed a chunk of the Fighting Irish’s Sweet 16 game against Oregon State when officials made her remove a nose ring, which she had played with earlier in the tournament.

Away from the court, Utah players and coaches reported being racially harassed near the Idaho hotel where the team stayed while playing first- and second-round games in Spokane, Washington, about 40 minutes away.

The misdrawn 3-point line capped a rocky eight days for the NCAA, which has been working to address inequities between how it administers the men’s and women’s tournaments since issues were pointed out during the 2021 single-site events in Indianapolis and San Antonio, respectively.

The problem at Moda Center, home to the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, was another embarrassing mishap.

Teams switch baskets that they shoot at at halftime, so for each game, each team played one half shooting from the short 3-point arc.

According to the NCAA’s statistics, teams shooting from the 3-point line in Portland that was 9 inches short at the top over five games were 23 for 89 (25.8%). Teams shooting on the accurate line were 29 for 87 (33.3%).

“I think we shot the ball better on the other end both games, because that’s the normal line,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “But I’m not going to blame it on that. I mean, these kids, like I said, they shoot so far behind it sometimes nowadays, who knows where the line is?”

The Wolfpack were 11 for 19 shooting 3s from the correctly measured line in two games and 5 for 16 with the incorrect line.

“You know, it is an unusual situation,” Moore said. “But, like I said, I don’t know that it was an advantage or disadvantage, either way. We both played a half on each end.”

Baylor, Gonzaga and Duke also played in Portland this past weekend.

In its Sweet 16 game against USC, Baylor went 3 for 12 on 3s from the wrongly marked side (missing seven in a row in one stretch), compared with 6 for 14 on 3s from the correctly marked side. USC won by four.

Connor Sports is a hardwood sports flooring company that provides more than a dozen NBA and WNBA teams floors for their practice venues and game arenas, according to the company’s website.

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

At arenas that host multiple types of basketball events, multiple courts are often used. For example, at Madison Square Garden in New York, there is a court used for Knicks games, and when the Big East Tournament is played there, the conference brings a court. That court comes pre-marked with logos, signage and lines drawn to college basketball dimensions.

The main difference between an NBA court and a college court is the distance between the 3-point line and the basket. The NBA line is a foot farther at its longest point.

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