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UConn frustrated by controversial offensive foul on final possession

The Huskies had a chance to win the game on the final possession until Aaliyah Edwards got called for an offensive foul with 3.9 seconds left.

Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Everything about Friday’s national semifinal between UConn and Iowa was shaping up to be an instant classic.

The Huskies fought back from nine down in the fourth quarter and pulled within one on a clutch 3-pointer from Nika Mühl with 41 seconds left. They then forced a turnover down the other end and got the ball with 9.3 seconds remaining and a chance to win the game.

One possession would decide which team advanced to the national championship game and which team went home.

That’s what should’ve happened, at least. Instead, the officials inserted themselves into the spotlight and called an offensive foul on Aaliyah Edwards for a moving screen with 3.9 seconds left, which gave the ball to Iowa.

The Hawkeyes never let UConn touch it again and advanced with a 71-69 victory.

The Huskies struggled to hide their frustration with the call postgame.

“There's probably an illegal screen call that you could make on every single possession,” Geno Auriemma said. “I just know there were three or four of them called on us and I don't think there were any called on them. So I guess we just gotta get better on not setting illegal screens.”

As for Edwards, she said she didn’t receive an explanation for what she did wrong from any official. She believed she set a legal screen.

“From my point of view, it was pretty clean,” Edwards said.

Nika Mühl declined to discuss the play.

“I'm not gonna give any comments on the call because I might say some bad stuff that is not going to be good,” she said.

The illegal screen wasn’t the only issue that UConn had with the officials against Iowa. The Huskies were called for 18 fouls — twice as many as Iowa — and shot just four free throws compared to the Hawkeyes’ 14.

“We shot four free throws tonight in a game that was played like that,” Auriemma said, referencing the physicality from both sides. “So either Iowa plays absolutely zero defense — which isn't true — or we shot four free throws. We're not aggressive enough, I guess, getting to the rim.”

The game didn’t end on that foul call, though. UConn quickly fouled Iowa on the ensuing inbounds and sent Caitlin Clark to the line. If she made both, the Huskies would only trailed by three at most and had a timeout left to advance the ball to mid-court. They’d have a shot to send the game to overtime with a 3-pointer.

Then Clark missed the second free throw — and Iowa got the offensive rebound. That sealed the game.

“The screen call and the missed free throw, I think those two things combined — whether they were right call, wrong call — we have no control over the call on the screen,” Auriemma said. “We have control over whether we got to rebound. So we had an opportunity at the very end and if we secure that rebound, now we have one more chance to win the game. And we didn't do it.”

Paige Bueckers took a similar approach. She put the blame on herself instead of the foul call.

“Everybody can make a big deal of that one single play, but not one single play wins a basketball game or loses a basketball game. I feel there were a lot of mistakes that I made that could have prevented that play from even being that big,” she said. “Maybe that was a tough call for us, but I feel like I could have done a better job preventing that from even happening.”

Regardless of whether it was the right or wrong call, the officials stepped in instead of letting the players decide the outcome on the sport’s biggest stage.

Reaction online

Former UConn players certainly weren’t happy about the foul.

They weren’t the only ones, either.

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