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‘Refs have been terrible’: WNBA officiating issues extend into playoffs

Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner speaks with referee Isaac Barnett during Game 3 of the WNBA semifinals. (M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The drama surrounding WNBA officiating has extended into the 2023 playoffs.

Connecticut Sun guard Natisha Hiedeman sounded off on the referees after her team’s elimination at the hands of the New York Liberty in Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals.

“Now that we don’t got no more checks coming in the refs have been terrible from both sides…not even in this series but the whole season,” she wrote on social media. “Ppl gon get hurt. I hope for the finals it can just be FAIR!!”

During Sunday’s Game 4, referees called 23 personal fouls on the Sun and 11 on the Liberty.

All season long, players and coaches have called out the league’s officiating. Dallas Wings star Arike Ogunbowale questioned the referees after receiving her second ejection of the season in August, and Washington Mystics stars Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud also have made their voices heard.

“I don’t care what pipeline refs we have coming through. I don’t care,” Cloud said in July. “We have to do our job every single night. You need to do yours. This is bull—t. This is f–king bull–t.”

Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon tweeted out side-by-side images of instances from Sunday’s Liberty-Sun contest in which fouls were not called on offensive players. They were accompanied by a quote of analyst Rebecca Lobo speaking during broadcast about the officiating.

“If you are a player, note to self, you can run over someone in the post with your physicality, if you are the offensive player,” Lobo said, “and you’re not going to get the foul called.”