WNBA Admits Referee Error Helped Decide Crown

Maya Moore, Nneka Ogwumike,
The Associated Press

New York (AFP) – A referee’s mistake on a basket in the final 75 seconds of the deciding game helped the Los Angeles Sparks win the Women’s NBA Finals over Minnesota, the league said Friday.

The Sparks won 77-76 at Minnesota to claim the best-of-five championship series three games to two, but Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was upset about the officiating after the loss.

Officials did not review a shot by the Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike with 74 seconds remaining for a possible shot clock violation. Her basket gave Los Angeles a 73-71 lead.

Under league rules, plays in the last two minutes of a game can only be reviewed immediately after a play.

Reeve complained the referees should have stopped play and checked video review but did not, instead putting the ball back into play.

On Friday, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations Renee Brown admitted the referees botched the call.

“After reviewing post-game 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.”

Ogwumike would later hit the game-winning basket for the Sparks, who will keep the crown despite the officiating error.