March Madness refs face criticism over calls in Iowa-West Virginia women’s tourney game: ‘8 v 5 everytime’

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The lady Hawkeyes are off to the Sweet 16, but many think they got plenty of help from referees.

Caitlin Clark dropped 32 points in the 64-54 victory, pulling away from a No. 8 West Virginia team that had the game tied at 52 with 2:58 to go.

Iowa outscored the Mountaineers, 12-2, in the final to earn the victory, but they may have been playing an 8-on-5, depending on who you ask.

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Caitlin Clark celebrating

Guard Caitlin Clark of the Hawkeyes celebrates after drawing a foul from the West Virginia Mountaineers in the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Championship at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 25, 2024, in Iowa City. (Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

It should be noted that West Virginia was called for 27 fouls on the night, while Iowa was called for just 11. The Mountaineers went 3-for-5 from the free-throw line, but Iowa was 25-for-30.

“The refs last night in Iowa game were told by the NCAA to make sure Iowa wins. It’s a simple as that,” wrote one user on X, formerly Twitter.

“If Iowa played the Lakers who would get more calls?” added Bill Simmons.

Even NBA star Damian Lillard saw an unfair advantage.

Caitlin Clark talks to reporters

Caitlin Clark of the Hawkeyes speaks during the press conference after beating the Holy Cross Crusaders during the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament held at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 23, 2024, in Iowa City. (Rebecca Gratz/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

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“I feel like West Virginia women’s team getting did bad by these refs,” the Milwaukee Bucks star wrote.

“I can’t stand to watch Iowa WBB. Literally 8 v 5 everytime,” one more person posted. “Clark jumps into a 3, travels, no call. Iowa guard hacks WVU shooter on her release, no call. WVU player makes a bball move, travel. WVU player breathes on Clark, foul. And Iowa still gripes to refs nonstop…..”

Eleven of Clark’s 32 points came from the stripe, and they were 14-of-17 on fourth-quarter free throws.

Iowa entered the fourth quarter up 48-38, but WVU opened it with a 10-0 run.

The Hawkeyes finally got on the board in the fourth when Sydney Affolter hit both her free throws to retake the lead. But the scoreboard would go back and forth, as West Virginia battled to tie things up again before Iowa kept trying to pull away. 

It finally happened for the Hawkeyes as Affolter made an and-one free throw to go up three points, and West Virginia started to go cold from the field. Jayla Hemingway and JJ Quinerly couldn’t knock down three-pointers in hopes of taking a late lead.

Hannah Stuelke shoots

Hannah Stuelke of the Hawkeyes shoots over Jayla Hemingway of the Mountaneers during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on March 25, 2024, in Iowa City. (Rebecca Gratz/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

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As a result, the Mountaineers were forced to foul to keep their chances alive, but they were sending Clark, the NCAA all-time points leader, to the free-throw line. Clark knocked down her free-throw attempts in the final minute, as did Hannah Stuelke.

Iowa faces No. 5 Colorado later this week in Albany.

Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.

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