NEW YORK – For the second time in a week during the WNBA Finals, the league acknowledged a late officiating mistake.
The WNBA said the officials missed a shot clock violation in the deciding Game 5 on Thursday night in which the Los Angeles Sparks beat the defending champion Minnesota Lynx 77-76.
“After reviewing postgame video, we have determined that Nneka Ogwumike’s shot with 1:14 remaining in regulation time should not have counted due to a shot-clock violation, and that the referees improperly failed to review the play under the instant replay rules,” Renee Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations, said in a statement Friday.
Ogwumike’s jumper with 3.1 seconds left, off the rebound of her blocked shot, won it for the Sparks.
The league earlier this week admitted a mistake after officials missed an 8-second backcourt violation that benefited Minnesota late in Game 4 on Sunday. The Lynx scored on that possession for a four-point lead with 12.5 seconds left and won 85-79.
Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve was angry in her postgame news conference about both missed calls, saying the league needed to do more than just apologize and “send a memo.”
“It’s really unfortunate that players continually put themselves out there, playing and competing at a really high level. Whether it was the 8-second call in L.A. or the game today, doesn’t matter, OK? The game today, it’s not fair to the players,” Reeve said. “It’s not enough just to apologize or send out a memo that they got something wrong, OK? These players are so invested and something must be done about the officiating in this league because it’s not fair to these great players we have.”
WNBA rules state in the final 2 minutes of a game, plays are only reviewable immediately. Earlier in the game, time can elapse and plays can still be reviewed. In college basketball, officials are given more time to review calls in the final 2 minutes.
“It was reviewable at the time when she shot it,” Reeve said. “The referees at that point didn’t think anything was wrong. They didn’t understand it was the end of the clock. They didn’t hear the shot clock. When they put the ball in play, the play is no longer reviewable.”
Arenas switched shot clocks midseason. There were some issues when they were changed about how audible the horn was when it reached zero.
This wasn’t the first year officiating mistakes happened in playoff games. Last season, in the Western Conference finals, the Lynx were aided by a foul with 1.5 seconds left in a tie game against Phoenix. The league acknowledged the call should never have been made.
“It’s unfortunate we’re having this discussion,” Reeve said. “The number of people that have contacted us and said this shot was no good, it’s unfortunate. I mean, I don’t know what happens from there. Maybe they still win. I don’t know. That’s why I don’t want to take anything away from L.A.”
Lynx star Maya Moore didn’t realize the controversy until asked about it in a sullen losing locker room.
“OK, that doesn’t make me feel any better,” Moore said.
She said she thought she saw one of the officials signal for a review and was surprised to hear that didn’t occur, the details of the final minutes lost in the haze of defeat.
“Well, it doesn’t mean anything now,” Moore said.
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