The Los Angeles Sparks dethroned the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA Finals Game 5 via the slimmest of margins, 77-76, Thursday night but it wasn’t without controversy.
For the second consecutive W.N.B.A.finals game, the league acknowledged a late officiating mistake. The W.N.B.A. said the officials missed a shot clock violation 1:14 remaining in the game.
“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, the W.N.B.A. 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 had previously admitted a mistake after officials missed an eight-second-violation call late in Game 4.
Minnesota Coach Cheryl Reeve was angry in her postgame news conference Thursday about both missed calls, saying the league needed to do more than just apologize and “send a memo.”
“Whether it was the eight-second call in L.A. or the game today, doesn’t matter, O.K.? 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, O.K.? 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.”
W.N.B.A. rules state that plays in the final two minutes of a game are reviewable only immediately. Earlier in the game, time can elapse and plays can still be reviewed.
“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.”