Iowas Bluder calls officials approach frustrating
- Covers women’s college basketball and the WNBA
- Previously covered UConn and the WNBA Connecticut Sun for the Hartford Courant
- Stanford graduate and Baltimore native with further experience at the Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times and Cincinnati Enquirer
DALLAS — Iowa Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder found the officials’ approach “frustrating” in Sunday’s 2023 women’s NCAA title game, in which her team fell 102-85 to the LSU Tigers at the American Airlines Center.
“I can’t comment on the officials,” Bluder said postgame. “It’s very frustrating because I feel like I can’t talk to them. They won’t even listen. That’s what’s frustrating, is there wasn’t even a conversation that could be had. When your two seniors have to sit on the bench — they don’t know they’re seniors, I get it — but those two women didn’t deserve it. I don’t know. It’s too bad. Yeah, it’s too bad.”
There were 37 fouls called in all by the game’s end, with fifth-year senior Monika Czinano and senior McKenna Warnock fouling out in the fourth quarter at the 6:25 and 1:33 marks, respectively. That isn’t as many fouls as Friday’s national semifinal game between South Carolina-Iowa (38) and UConn in last year’s national championship game had 21, more than either team on Sunday. James Madison and Ohio State had a combined 52 fouls in the first-round of this year’s tournament.
That said, the first half alone of the national title game featured 21 foul calls, with eight players — Angel Reese, Alexis Morris, Kateri Poole, Sa’Myah Smith, Last-Tear Poa, Caitlin Clark, Czinano and Warnock — each picking up at least two fouls.
Bluder also seemed to take issue with the technical foul called late in the third quarter on Clark — her fourth. She tossed the ball behind her back out of bounds after Reese drew a foul on Czinano. The Hawkeyes had cut a 21-point deficit to seven just a short while prior, but following the tech and the ensuing free throws from Alexis Morris, the Tigers extended their lead back to double-figures and never looked back.
“We cut it to seven there eventually, but we couldn’t quite get over the hump,” Clark said. “Having foul trouble can hinder you at times too.”
Referee Lisa Jones explained the technical foul call to a pool reporter after the game.
“Iowa received a delay of game warning in the third period at the 7:28 mark for batting the ball away after a made basket, causing a delay,” Jones said. “The second offense was when No. 22 from Iowa [Clark] picked up the ball and failed to immediately pass the ball to the nearest official after the whistle was blown… by failing to and it reads, attempting to gain an advantage by interfering with the ball after a goal, or by failing to immediately pass the ball to the nearest official after the whistle is blown.”
Added Clark on the officiating: “I thought they called it very, very tight. I don’t know about the two push-offs in the second quarter. I’m sure they saw that I pushed off and they called it and whatnot, and then hit with the technical foul in the third for throwing the ball under the basket.
“Sometimes that’s how things go. I thought all I could do is respond and come back out there and keep fighting and keep trying to help this team crawl back into the game.”
When asked whether the frequent fouling hurt the game, Czinano deflected commenting on the officiating.
“We can’t live in the past,” the fifth-year senior said. “All we can do is live in the moment. That game happened. Those calls were called. Going forward, we’ll see what people decide what to do about it.”
Regardless of the officiating, the Tigers made the plays they needed to win the game, particularly on offense, where they hit 11 of 17 3s and outscored Iowa’s bench 30-8.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to LSU,” Clark said. “They played an outstanding, outstanding game. They made some tough threes, some tough jumpers off of ball screens, and sometimes you have to live with some of that.”
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