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Controversial late-game foul against UConn’s Aaliyah Edwards draws ire: ‘I wasn’t given an explanation’

In Friday night’s Final Four, UConn trailed Iowa 70-64 with 2:14 to play, a chance at returning to the national title game to face South Carolina dwindling. But the Huskies rallied with two stops and two scores. When KK Arnold stole the ball with nine seconds to play, UConn was down just one with a shot for the win.

Instead, the Huskies never took that shot. After a UConn timeout, Aaliyah Edwards set a pick on the wing for Paige Bueckers to fly off and potentially take the game-winning jumper, but Edwards was whistled for a moving screen with 3.9 seconds left. The turnover gave the Hawkeyes the ball back on their side of the court, and the Huskies would never regain possession, losing 71-69.

“I wasn’t given an explanation,” Edwards said after the loss. “There was no real time to get an explanation. From my point of view, it was pretty clean.”

UConn coach Geno Auriemma and the Huskies bench were immediately distraught, and social media erupted in their defense. Stars from the WNBA and NBA insisted a referee could not make a call of that magnitude so late in the game, relying on the truism that a certain amount of contact has to be allowed down the stretch.

In a season that has shone an unflattering spotlight on women’s college basketball referees, many fans and basketball insiders have complained the quality of officiating has not risen to the level of the play on the court. And this was another indication the referees couldn’t meet the moment.

Nevertheless, regardless of the stakes of the call — that Edwards’ college career ended on a moving screen — the reasoning behind the referee’s decision is plausible. Edwards’ legs are outside her shoulders, and she’s leaning to her left as Gabbie Marshall runs through. It’s a call that wouldn’t have drawn much ire in the first quarter.

In the fourth quarter, however, fans would have preferred to see the players decide the game rather than the referees. But in effect, Edwards did.

Required reading

(Photo: C. Morgan Engel / NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

 




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