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Fans watching the Dallas Wings host the Seattle Storm learned that out of the halftime break Arike Ogunbowale had been ejected from the contest for unsportsmanlike conduct Sunday. Referees ruled she kicked the ball into the stands, though if she intended that is up for debate. The Wings fell, 84-79.
The Storm heaved up a last-second attempt to end the half that bounced off the backboard toward Ogunbowale, who was approaching the basket in the paint. It appeared on the replay like she was sticking her foot out to stop the ball with a soccer move. It came directly off her foot, which could have been seen as a kicking motion, and went into the stands. The Wings broadcast said the fans were not harmed.
Per WNBA rules, "a player, coach or trainer must be ejected" for "kicking or throwing the ball which enters the stands with force." Opinions by the broadcast team and fans on social media were split regarding if it was intentional or incidental.
Ogunbowale tweeted from the locker room during the game, saying she had no intent to kick the ball.
"If you know me you know I was a soccer player first," she wrote in a two-part tweet. "Literally every practice and game I stop the basketball with my feet, pass it to my teammates with my feet, etc. Ball comes at me fast I always stop the ball with my feet it's my first instinct.
"I was in NO WAY trying to kick the ball. The half was over I tried to control the ball with my feet like I always do if the ball comes [at] me fast. To be ejected for something like this is wild. From here on out I'll try to remember WNBA refs aren't fans of soccer players.
"Literally was only trying to control the ball with my feet like I always do."
I was in NO WAY trying to kick the ball. The half was over I tried to control the ball with my feet like I always do if the ball comes @ me fast. To be ejected for something like this is wild. From here on out I’ll try to remember WNBA refs aren’t fans of soccer players. #GoWings
— Arike Ogunbowale (@Arike_O) June 12, 2022
Ogunbowale won four Wisconsin State Cup titles in soccer. The action also resulted in a technical foul, which was taken by the Storm's Jewell Loyd to open the second half of a one-point game. The Storm turned it into a 10-point lead within five minutes, though the Wings climbed back within five by the final quarter.
Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb was already slated to do a third-quarter on-air interview with the broadcast team, which asked him about the call to start. He awkwardly paused before saying they should focus on the action of the third quarter.
Ogunbowale was 1-of-7 and missed all three 3-point attempts before exiting. She had three assists, one rebound, one steal and a turnover.
Dallas was already down Marina Mabrey, who missed her second consecutive game while in health and safety protocols. Ogunbowale averages a team-best 18.8 PPG and 3.5 APG with Mabrey at a third-best 13.3 PPG and 3.2 APG. Third-year forward Satou Sabally, who missed much of the season while winning a championship with her Turkish team, exited with 2:53 in the third quarter with an apparent knee injury. She was led into the training room and did not return to action. Sabally had 13 points on a 6-of-10 outing with two missed from beyond the arc. She had four rebounds, two assists and a turnover.
The Wings (6-7) are on a three-game skid with back-to-back tight losses to the Storm (8-5). Allisha Gray led all Dallas scorers with 20 points. Teaira McCown had 13 off the bench. Tyasha Harris had 10.
Breanna Stewart scored a game-high 25 points for the Storm with eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. Loyd had 22 points and Ezi Magbegor had 13. They were outrebounded, 39-23, but took advantage of 19 Wings' turnovers.