Kellie Harper is in turmoil following a disappointing loss, and the coaching staff is under suspicion.


Hypothetical news: Kellie Harper, head coach of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball team, sparked controversy after a post-game interview where she criticized the referees for what she believed were biased calls favoring their opponents. Harper’s remarks quickly went viral, with many fans and analysts debating whether her comments were justified or if they crossed a line in questioning the integrity of the officiating. The incident reignited discussions about the pressures and emotions involved in high-stakes college basketball and the role of coaches in addressing perceived injustices.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Jewel Spear banked in a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left in the second-round NCAA tournament game Monday. It cut NC State’s lead to 74-70, and a trip to the Sweet 16 was on the line for Lady Vols basketball.

On the inbounds pass, the Wolfpack passed the ball straight to Spear. It was a miracle that Tennessee needed with the game hanging in the balance. She had a wide-open lane. Then the official blew the whistle.

NC State had called a timeout. The official awarded it to coach Wes Moore.

Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper looked at the officials in disbelief. She walked over to one and fought to keep herself calm as she pleaded her case. It didn’t work.

No. 6 seed Tennessee was able to score just once more before it lost 79-72 to the third-seeded Wolfpack.

After the game, Harper said she was told the whistle got blown before the ball was inbounded.

“I don’t know if they checked it. I asked them to check. I’m not sure if they could,” she said. “For us, the games aren’t just singular. We had that same situation earlier this year, and it was the reverse. I was calling a timeout, whistle blew, but they didn’t give it to us. That was honestly what I was saying.”

Harper was referring to Tennessee’s eight-point loss at South Carolina in the regular-season finale. At the end of the third quarter, she called for a timeout before Lady Vols guard Kaiya Wynn inbounded the ball. An official blew the whistle, but they didn’t stop the game. MiLaysia Fulwiley stole the inbounds pass, and Wynn was forced to foul her.

Harper got emotional when she was asked how hard it was to stomach that those calls could have altered the outcome of two postseason games.

“In these games, these teams are really good,” she said once she gathered herself. “One mistake, one missed shot, one missed assignment at any point in the game can change it.”

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