A close contest between the Minnesota Lynx and Dallas Wings ended in chaos on Tuesday, as the Lynx’s 91-86 win was overshadowed by ejections, heated exchanges and condemning social media posts.
Wings forward Satou Sabally twisted her ankle with 25 seconds left after landing on Bridget Carleton’s foot following a shot attempt. It was ruled a flagrant foul, as Carleton didn’t give Sabally space to land, and Carleton was ejected from the contest for her second flagrant of the game.
As Sabally sat on the ground nursing her ankle, several Lynx fans behind the bench cheered for the injury, which Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve condemned after the game.
One fan was ejected, and Reeve apologized to Wings coach Latricia Trammell as it happened.
“There’s no place for that,” Reeve later told reporters. “I was disappointed. I apologized. Our fans are passionate. You just can’t cross the line of celebrating someone’s injury. We wouldn’t want that. We apologize that that happened to Satou.”
Sabally responded in the moment by blowing a kiss to the crowd after knocking down a free throw. When fans continued to yell, she cupped her hand around her ear in a “I can’t hear you” motion.
A Lynx fan got ejected after yelling at Satou Sabally who got hurt from landing on Bridget Carleton's foot. And then Sabally blew a kiss to the crowd after making her free throws, which led to another Lynx fan getting ejected:pic.twitter.com/gJCtbHmBDP— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) August 23, 2023
A Lynx fan got ejected after yelling at Satou Sabally who got hurt from landing on Bridget Carleton's foot. And then Sabally blew a kiss to the crowd after making her free throws, which led to another Lynx fan getting ejected:pic.twitter.com/gJCtbHmBDP
At least one other person was escorted out of the arena by security before the game ended.
After the game, Sabally took to social media to address the situation.
“Disgusting fan base in Minny. The Schadenfreude to see someone get hurt can’t be a WNBA culture. Terrible words from the sidelines all game long,” she wrote.
The fan behavior started long before the last 25 seconds of the game, according to Dallas guard Crystal Dangerfield, who played for Minnesota in 2020.
“I’m shocked,” she said. “We have fans saying outrageous things to players. Wishing bad on someone about an injury is out of pocket. It started at the beginning of the game, and it needs to be taken care of. And it’s not just here (in Minnesota). It happens other places as well.”
The controversy overshadowed what was an important win for the Lynx. They improved to 16-17, tying them with the Atlanta Dream for the fifth-best record in the league. The victory also avenges a 40-point loss to Dallas back in July, and marks Minnesota’s first win over the Wings in three meetings this season.
The teams play again on Thursday, this time in Dallas.
Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.