Watch: Fans Enraged After Controversial Call Late into UConn-Iowa Game – ‘Awful Call’

Watch: Fans Enraged After Controversial Call Late into UConn-Iowa Game – ‘Awful Call’

Sure, women’s basketball has been a prominent sport for some time now — but, if it ever does come to rival the men’s game in popularity, historians will likely look back on the 2024 NCAA Women’s Tournament as the moment it really and truly became A Thing™.

Not only does the women’s side feature bigger stars than the men’s tourney — Caitlin Clark of Iowa, Angel Reese of LSU, Paige Bueckers of UConn — but bigger matchups, as well.

And, like any watershed sports moment worth its salt, it now features a game-changing call by the refs that fans will be debating for decades to come.

In the most watched of the two Final Four games on Friday night, Clark’s Hawkeyes defeated Bueckers’ Huskies 71-69 in a back-and-forth thriller. However, many took to social media shortly after the nail-biter to rage over a questionable offensive foul called on UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards with seconds to go and the Huskies down by just one.

The foul came as UConn was trying to set up a play to get Bueckers an open shot on the right perimeter. Edwards set a pick in order to block Iowa’s Gabbie Marshall from staying on Bueckers as she tried to get open.

However, officials ruled that Edwards had committed an illegal screen.

For those who aren’t basketball players or fans, to set a screen, one’s feet must be and stay set throughout the screen; if they don’t, it’s deemed a moving screen and an offensive foul.

Even the announcers weren’t convinced this was a foul; color commentator and former women’s basketball star Rebecca Lobo — who played for UConn, for what it’s worth — said that Edwards was “barely leaning” into Marshall when the foul was called.

As the New York Post noted, UConn then fouled Caitlin Clark to stop the clock and get another chance. Clark hit one of her two free throws, but the Huskies were unable to score before the buzzer sounded.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma was critical of the call, as one might expect.

“There’s probably an illegal screen call that you could make on every single possession. I just know that there were three or four of them called on us and I don’t think there were any called on them,” he said in a media briefing after the game.

Nor was he alone; LeBron James was also not a fan of the officiating.

Nor, unsurprisingly, was Angel Reese — the “Bayou Barbie” whose LSU Tigers were eliminated by Iowa in the Elite 8.

Even Clay Travis, radio host and impresario at sports outlet OutKick, was critical of the whistle, as were plenty of others who thought it was an “awful call”:

However, others defended the call, saying that Edwards’ feet weren’t set and, by moving in the direction she did, she put Marshall far out of position to make a play on Bueckers:

Look, as someone who knows more UConn graduates than former Hawkeyes, I feel your pain. I would generally pull for the Huskies in this situation, too — but Clark is what sports pundits have become too fond of calling a “generational talent” (can we retire that phrase after Caleb Williams goes No. 1 in the NFL Draft this year, please?), so I was rooting for a great game. I wasn’t disappointed.

And for those who are rooting for women’s college basketball as a sport — which, total mea culpa, I never thought would be this fun — think of the legends that have been born out of controversial calls. The “Tuck Rule” game. Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal for Argentina during the 1986 World Cup. The Immaculate Reception. Steve Bartman.

This was hardly robbery on the level of Game 6 of the 2002 Los Angeles Lakers-Sacramento Kings Western Conference Finals, in other words. It’s a call we’ll likely be debating for years to come, sure. But that’s the thing: We’ll be debating it. Not only could it have gone either way, we’ve gotten to the point where we care enough to argue over this one. It turns out that great teams, thrilling matchups and exciting storylines have done something that decades of identitarian boosterism couldn’t do: make women’s basketball more interesting than the men’s game, for once.

One can only hope the final — where Clark’s Hawkeyes will face another powerhouse with a huge star, Kamilla Cardoso’s University of South Carolina Gamecocks — keeps living up to the hype.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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