BEYOND THE SPORTS DESK: WNBA with the W…and the L

MARSHALL? I was sitting at home on Thursday night watching the Minnesota Lynx battle the Los Angeles Sparks in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals.

In the game’s closing minutes, I was mentally preparing myself for writing this column, in which I would congratulate the WNBA for putting on a fantastic Finals series.

And then it happened. The WNBA followed up its W with a L.

If you were tuned in to ESPN2 or were on Twitter at the time, you probably know what happened. With 1:14 remaining, Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike hit a jumper late in the shot clock to give Los Angeles a 73-71 lead.

Or did she?

Immediately, screenshots started circulating online of the shot clock at 0 seconds, the lit-up LED light strip behind the backboard and the ball still in Ogwumike’s hands.

Two referees signaled for a review, but play continued. Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve called timeout with 35 seconds left in a tie game in hopes that the refs would look at that play again. But they couldn’t.

In the WNBA rule book, it states that a review of a 24-second shot clock violation in the last two minutes of the game must be done immediately. Once the ball was put back in play after the shot, the violation could no longer be reviewed.

Ultimately, the Lynx lost the game by one point and were denied their bid for a fourth title in six years.

It was an unfortunate ending to an amazing series. Not because the Lynx lost. But because of a massive miss by the referees.

“I don’t get paid enough to have to do somebody else’s job too,” Reeve said after the game. “Just get the simple things right. Simple. Eight-second call, shot clock violation. Get the simple things right and we’ll live with the other stuff that happens in a game.”

The WNBA often struggles to get the national recognition it deserves. This was a great WNBA Finals that came down to a final shot in the final seconds in the final game of the series.

This entire series was a definite W for the WNBA in its 20th Anniversary season.

Unfortunately, because of that “simple” call gone wrong, the series and the season ended with an L for both the Lynx and for the league as a whole.