Penn State junior Dara Taylor was called for a foul on Kelly Faris three seconds into the game tonight. UConn All-American Bria Hartley was called for a charge 16 seconds into the game. Penn State star Maggie Lucas was called for a foul 31 seconds into the game. And UConn sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was fouled by Penn State senior Nikki Greene with 19:03 left in the first half.
By calling four fouls in the first 57 seconds to open a Top 10 showdown between No. 2 UConn and No. 10 Penn State at Gampel Pavilion, the officiating crew of Bryan Enterline, Jesse Dickerson and Barbara Jo Smith set the tone. It was a tone that blew up any chance of any team establishing any sense of flow offensively. And it made the game unwatchable at times.
There were seven fouls in the first 4:53, 19 in the first half and a total of 38 in UConn’s 67-52 win. Needless to say, neither Huskies’ coach Geno Auriemma nor Penn State coach Coquese Washington were happy with the way the game was called.
“I expected to come in here and the game be competitive,’’ Washington said. “I didn’t think the referees called the game like there were two Top 10 teams playing on the floor. And I think that’s unfortunate. I don’t think the fans and anybody watching on TV got to see the kind of basketball that both teams are capable of playing because of the way the game was called and because of the physical play. And that’s unfortunate.’’
Said Auriemma: “I know two of those guys (Enterline and Dickerson) did the game last night, the Baylor-Notre Dame game (in South Bend, Ind). So maybe they were suffering from jet lag. I don’t know. But I just think we have some real issues in women’s basketball and unless they get addressed you’re going to see more of these games. And that’s not fair.’’
With 10:38 left in the game, Penn State had three players with four fouls – Lucas, Greene and Alex Bentley. In all, the Lady Lions were hit with 22 fouls in the game. Lucas fouled out with 54 seconds left. Teammates Mia Nickson, Bentley and Greene finished with four fouls. Talia East had three.
UConn was called for 17 fouls. Mosqueda-Lewis, who had three offensive charges, fouled out with 56.2 seconds left. Stefanie Dolson and Kelly Faris finished with three fouls apiece.
The frustration boiled over for Auriemma 33 seconds into the second half when Smith slapped him with a technical nailed for voicing his displeasure after Dolson was called for a touch foul near midcourt.
Auriemma kicked the electronic dashboard before Smith ran over to him and T’d him up.
Auriemma was asked after the game if he wanted to get ejected at some point.
“No. I really didn’t want to get thrown out,’’ Auriemma said. “I had no intention of … I did threaten one of the officials. I said, `I really do want to get thrown out. I’m going to get thrown out a little bit later.’ They said, `No, you’re not’ and they just walked away. So they knew I wasn’t serious. But it’s just unfortunate. That’s all you can say. Everybody saw that game. I don’t think that I have to comment on it. It’s just unfortunate.’’