SAN ANTONIO – UConn is on the way to the 13th consecutive women’s final after a controversial non-call at the end of the Huskies 69:67 win against Baylor on Monday evening on the 13th – with a chance of a 12th national championship Alamodome .
Baylor guard DiJonai Carrington, who was 5 seconds to go from 68-67, appeared to have been fouled by two Huskies players, Aaliyah Edwards and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. No fouls were called, UConn got the ball back and Christyn Williams was fouled. She took a free throw less than a second ahead, which made up the bottom line, and the Seed Huskies of the River Walk Region No. 1 had survived behind newcomer Paige Buecker’s 28 points. But the debate was only just beginning.
NBA star LeBron James tweeted, “Cmon, man !!! That was a foul !!” It was a feeling shared by several WNBA players including Skylar Diggins-Smith, Kristi Toliver, Amanda Zahui B., Layshia Clarendon, and Natasha Cloud. Even the daughter of UConn trainer Geno Auriemma, Alysa, tweeted: “That should have been a foul.”
“What did you see? Then write it like this,” said Baylor trainer Kim Mulkey when asked about not calling. “You don’t need a quote from me. I have stills and videos from two angles. A child slaps her in the face and a child slaps her on the elbow.”
Baylor trainer Kim Mulkey does not agree with the no-foul call at the end of the matchup between Baylor and UConn.
It wasn’t the first controversial appeal or lack of it at this year’s women’s tournament. Three questionable last minute calls were made to Troy in his first-round loss to Texas A&M, a game that could have been the first time a number 15 beat a number 2 in women’s tournament history.
And it wasn’t the first time Mulkey lost at the end of a tough stake in the NCAA tournament. In the Sweet 16 of 2004, Baylor was called to foul because of a fight for the ball, which sent Tennessee less than a second ahead in a tie to the foul line. The Lady Vols both made free throws for a 71-69 win.
When asked if something could be done about questionable calls, Mulkey sighed.
“It’ll never happen. It doesn’t matter. ‘Well, we missed the call,'” she said. “It doesn’t matter what you write. It doesn’t matter what I say. It doesn’t matter what we’ve seen. It doesn’t matter what we think. Life goes on.”
For his part, Geno Auriemma said that there are always questionable calls in any game.
Speaking of James’ tweet, Auriemma said, “I probably doubt he has ever won a game in his career and decided to return it because he looked at it and said, ‘That was a foul.’
“It is what it is. I once asked one of the officers how Paige was doing [Bueckers] landing on a loose ball on the ground with a Baylor player? He says, “I don’t know.” That was the answer.
“So you want to go back and check every single call throughout the game? And then add them all up and – you don’t. It’s the nature of the sport.”
It is also true that official decisions are increasingly scrutinized in the final minutes of the Games because their implications can be so great.
“The bottom line is that the officials did what they will,” said Auriemma. “If they said it was a foul, on the other end I would say, ‘You can’t make that call!’
“I’m not going to sit here apologizing. If people want to talk about it for the rest of the week, feel free to do so. It won’t change the outcome. And it won’t.” Make me feel bad for you to say it was a foul “
The last call hit the headlines, but the turning point in the game came 2:37 in the third quarter when Baylor senior starter DiDi Richards sustained an apparent hamstring injury and led Lady Bears 55-45. Richards made a brief return to the game but she didn’t move well and had to sit on the bench permanently and be replaced by freshman Sarah Andrews.
UConn took advantage of the absence of Richards, who was National Defensive Player of the Year last season, to play a groundbreaking 19-0 run.
“Of course you can never be responsible for injuries,” said Carrington, who finished with 22 points. “That was tough for us. Sarah was thrown into the fire. We were just trying to weather the storm. We never gave up. We never thought we would not be there.”
And they weren’t. When Williams missed two free throws by 18 seconds, Baylor got the ball back by one and had a chance to win. What happened then, rightly or wrongly, became the story of the night.
“Personally, you don’t see it as a controversial call,” Carrington said. “I’ve already seen the replay. A girl fouled my face and a girl fouled my arm. At this point there is nothing you can do.”