A group of Minnesota Lynx fans were kicked out of the team’s victory over the Dallas Wings Tuesday night after they heckled Wings forward Sato Sabali after she sprained her ankle.
Sabali, late in the fourth quarter of the Lynx’s 91-86 victory at Goal Center in Minneapolis, landed on the foot of Lynx guard Bridget Carlton and rolled her left ankle. While on the field, Sabali turned her head to look directly at the group of fans sitting outside the stadium.
According to Wings coach Latricia Trammell, fans were telling Sabally that they were glad she was hurt.
Sabally, after dropping all three free throws after drawing a flagrant 1 foul, then blew a kiss into the Target Center crowd.
“I can handle a lot, and so can our players, you know,” Trammell said. . But when Sato goes down, and you have someone in the stands shouting, ‘I’m glad you’re injured’, there’s no room for that. (Lynx trainer Cheryl Reeve) I apologized for that. It still doesn’t make it right… this league isn’t about that. And when somebody’s screaming, when Sato’s on the floor crying, and somebody’s screaming and saying, “I’m glad you’re hurt, so maybe you’re pretending, that’s a problem.”
It is not clear how many fans have been evicted, although many of them walked out of the arena.
Sabally took to Twitter after the loss as well, calling Lynx’s fanbase “disgusting”. It seemed like fans were making similar comments throughout the entire match.
Reeve said after the match that she apologized to both Tramell and Sabale for the behavior of the fans.
“Of course it’s competitive and tensions are high on the court, but we never want to see someone get hurt,” Lynx’s forward Navisa Collier said. . “Celebrating this is very inappropriate and doesn’t represent us as a team or players. I just thought this fan deserved to be fired because I don’t want it to represent who we are as Lynx.
Having led most of the contest, the Lynx held out in the chaotic final minute to claim the win. Sabally’s three free throws cut the game to just three points, then Arike Ogunbowale brought it one with a quick shot with less than 20 seconds left.
However, this was the last bucket they scored. Kayla McBride and Collier combined for four free throws up the stretch for the five-point win.
Sabali led Dallas with 22 points and seven assists. Ogunbowale added 20 points and seven assists, and Natasha Howard finished with 16 points. The Wings had only six points off the bench and committed 18 turnovers. Collier finished with 29 points for Minnesota after shooting 11-of-16 from the field. McBride added 21 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Carlton added 14 points from the bench.
The two teams, who sit just two games away from each other in the standings but are more than 10 games behind the Las Vegas Ice in the Western Conference, will face off again Thursday in Dallas.