Clark tech, foul count put focus on officials in title game
DALLAS (AP) — Iowa star Caitlin Clark was whistled for a technical foul late in the third quarter with her team trailing LSU by nine points in the NCAA championship game.
The bigger problem for the Hawkeyes was the call meant a fourth personal foul for the junior scoring sensation, moments after front court leader Monika Czinano had picked up her fourth.
Clark never fouled out, while Czinano and fellow senior McKenna Warnock did as Iowa never made a serious run in the fourth quarter of a 102-85 loss to the Tigers on Sunday.
The second and third fouls against Clark were both for push-offs about three minutes apart in the second quarter, when The Associated Press Player of the Year was trying to dribble around defenders.
The latter sent her to the bench for the final 3:26 of the first half with the Hawkeyes down 11, and she left the game again after the technical with 1:04 remaining in the third.
“I thought they called it very, very tight,” said Clark, who scored 30 points. “I don’t know about the two push-offs in the second quarter. I thought all I could do is respond and come back out there and keep fighting and keep trying to help this team crawl back into the game.”
In a pool report, lead official Lisa Jones said the technical came when Clark didn’t pass the ball to an official after the Hawkeyes had been given a delay-of-game warning for batting the ball away after a made basket earlier in the third quarter.
Clark’s tech was among 37 personal fouls. It wasn’t a championship game record, and was 15 fewer than a first-round game this year between James Madison and Ohio State.
Social media just made it seem like an all-time record, with the cascade of comments that officials were becoming the story by taking the stars out of the game. Czinano didn’t want to go there after the game.
“I don’t really think that’s a great question for me to answer honestly,” Czinano said. “We can’t live in the past. All we can do is live in the moment. That game happened. Those calls were called. Going forward, we’ll see what people decide what to do about it.”
LSU’s Angel Reese sat for a long stretch of the first half after picking up two fouls. Czinano and Warnock had two fouls at halftime, and both had four entering the fourth quarter.
Czinano fouled out with 6:25 remaining and the Hawkeyes trailing by 14. She had 13 points in a postseason-low 22 minutes.
“It’s very frustrating because I feel like I can’t talk to them,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “They won’t even listen. When your two seniors have to sit on the bench — they don’t know they’re seniors. I get it. But those two women didn’t deserve it. And then Caitlin getting a ‘T.’ I don’t know. It’s too bad.”
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