NEW YORK — A last-second foul that sent Maya Moore to the line for the winning free throw in the Western Conference finals should never have been called, the WNBA said Monday.
With the score tied in Sunday’s game between Minnesota and Phoenix, Moore stole Noelle Quinn’s pass. Quinn was whistled for a reach-in foul by official Amy Bonner, and Moore made a free throw with 1.5 seconds left for a 72-71 victory that gave Minnesota a two-game sweep and a spot in the WNBA Finals.
“After reviewing postgame video and interviewing last night’s game officials, we have determined a foul should not have been called,” Renee Brown, the WNBA’s chief of basketball operations and player relations, said in a statement Monday.
The defending champion Mercury ripped the call after the game.
“I don’t care. Say whatever. It was a horrible call,” center Brittney Griner said. “It’s very frustrating how it happened. It’s very frustrating for a ref to call a call like that at the end of the game. … There were a lot of calls, but that call stands out the most. Horrible.”
Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello was particularly unhappy with the timing.
“I mean, are you kidding me?” Brondello said. “No. 1, it wasn’t a foul. So to make that big a (call), that’s – I don’t know. That’s just frustrating. Let the two best teams decide, with the extra five minutes (of overtime), who wins the game.”
Mercury spokesman John Steinmiller said Monday the team wouldn’t comment on the league’s statement.
With the victory, Minnesota reached the WNBA Finals for the fourth time in five years. The Lynx will play either New York or Indiana.
This wasn’t the first time this season the league had to acknowledge a botched call. In June, referees counted a basket by Elena Delle Donne that never went in the hoop. That score didn’t end up determining the outcome of the game, as Delle Donne’s team lost by a point on a last-second shot.