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Controversial late foul call in Iowa’s victory over UConn prompts social media outcry

By Issy Ronald and Jacob Lev, CNN

(CNN) — The controversial late foul call that proved pivotal in Iowa’s 71-69 victory over UConn in the women’s Final Four sparked some outrage on social media with stars like LeBron James and Angel Reese weighing in.

However, UConn players voiced their frustration but refused to use it to explain their defeat.

No. 3 UConn was trailing by a single point on Friday with 3.9 seconds remaining when a foul was called on Aaliyah Edwards as she was setting up a screen with her team on their final offensive possession.

Edwards wasn’t “given an explanation” for the foul call, she told reporters afterwards. “There was no real time to get an explanation for it. My point of view, it was pretty clean.”

The foul gave the ball back to Iowa and Caitlin Clark made her first free throw shortly afterwards, after she had been fouled by Paige Bueckers with 3.1 seconds left. Though she missed her second, it gave Iowa a 71-69 lead and, after the teams battled for the ball, the Hawkeyes retained it by having the possession arrow.

Iowa guard Gabbie Marshall said Saturday she deleted her social media accounts after a spate of hate comments online about the foul call.

“I’m not the one that made the call, so I’m not sure why they’re mad at me personally,” the Hawkeyes senior said at a news conference Saturday, according to CNN affiliate KCCI.

“Personally, I thought it was an illegal screen and it’s not like it was the first one of the game,” Marshall said. “I feel like it just kind of overlooked the fact that I played my butt off the whole game trying to guard her. I’ve tried to get over screens the whole game and I feel like that one play kind of just consumed everything.”

Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder lambasted the hate comments being directed at Marshall.

“It’s unbelievable to me that you’re going to criticize a 22-year-old kid for something that she had no control over? I thought we handled that really well. We switched out onto it. I thought we were there to contest,” Bluder said on Saturday. “I can’t believe people would be so immature as to attack a 22-year-old on doing their job and doing it really, really well.”

Social media went into overdrive after the controversial incident with NBA great James leading the criticism and much of the furore stemming from the call being made so late in the game.

“NAAAAAHHHHHH!!! I ain’t rolling with that call,” James posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Reese, whose LSU was defeated by Iowa in the Elite Eight, posted “wait was that screen not set clean?” while WNBA player Kelsey Plum said: “To call that on a game deciding play is so wrong WOW.”  

Actress Gabrielle Union posted “I hate the end of the game. That’s a damn shame. Iowa came to play and so did UConn. That’s absolutely NOT how you determine a game like this.”

Despite this, star guard Bueckers told reporters afterwards that the “tough call” didn’t cause UConn’s loss.

“Everybody can make a big deal of that one single play, but not one single play wins a basketball game or loses a basketball game,” she said. “You can look at one play and say, ‘Oh, that killed us or that hurt us.’ But we should have done a better job.”

Meanwhile, her coach Geno Auriemma told reporters that “there’s probably an illegal screen call that you could make on every single possession.”

“I just know there were three or four called on us and I don’t think there were any called on them,” he added. “So I guess we gotta get better on not setting illegal screens.”

The NCAA told CNN that no request was made for a pool reporter statement for any decisions made by officials during Friday’s game.

CNN’s Ashley R. Williams contributed to this report.

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