A fight broke out midway through the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s WNBA game between the Dallas Wings and Phoenix Mercury, leading to the ejection of six players, including the Mercury’s Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi, and Wings forward Kristine Anigwe.
From video of the clash, it appears very aggressive play between Anigwe and Griner led to a scuffle, then a chase.
During the scuffle, referees called no fouls, only taking action to restrain Griner as she pursued Anigwe. Taurasi and other players left the Mercury bench in defense of their teammate. Refs spent ten minutes reviewing the incident before deciding to eject players.
ESPN reported that with 6:23 left in the final period, Griner and Kristine Anigwe “got tangled up in the lane.” Bleacher Report described it this way: “Brittney Griner and Kristine Anigwe tangled arms under the basket during a made shot. Griner took exception, throwing punches toward Anigwe before chasing her halfway down the court.”
Along with Griner, Anigwe and Taurasi, Phoenix’s Briann January and Dallas’ Kayla Thornton and Kaela Davis were ejected.
Watch the video of the bench-clearing near-brawl from ESPN by clicking here:
Griner didn’t comment after the game, but her benched teammate Diana Taurasi came to her defense, just as she did during the incident.
“Today I went on the court to make sure my teammate didn’t get jumped,” Taurasi told Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic. “[Griner] got punched in the face, and then someone ran on her back and threw punches at her face. I would do that 100 times out of 100 times.”
In another statement, Taurasi laid the blame firmly at the feet of WNBA referees for ignoring fouls. Alexis Mansanarez of The Athletic WNBA tweeted it.
Diana Taurasi doesn’t hold back. Ever. Saturday night that was certainly the case when she gave her take on the incident that happened in the fourth quarter of the Mercury-Wings game pic.twitter.com/SrwKiaFVyo
— Alexis Mansanarez (@almansanarez) August 11, 2019
Asked to comment on the fight, the victorious coach of the Wings called it “unfortunate.”
“Unfortunate about the fight,’’ Dallas coach Brian Agler told ESPN. “Didn’t help either team, but you know, those things are going to happen.’’
But Eric Nemchock of our SB Nation partner Swish Appeal said in July there is a “clear” reason why this is happening, when he reported on why scoring is down across the WNBA:
“It’s clear that WNBA officials are calling far fewer fouls in 2019 than they have in years past.” Nemchock wrote.
Following the ejections, Dallas went on to win the game, 80-77, breaking a losing streak.