Dallas guard Arike Ogunbowale, the Wings’ leading scorer, was ejected at halftime of Sunday’s 84-79 loss to the Seattle Storm in Arlington, Texas, after kicking a ball that flew into the stands.
After a shot that was heaved just after the halftime buzzer, the ball bounced off the backboard toward Ogunbowale, who kicked at it before walking off the court. The ball flew behind the head of Storm forward Breanna Stewart and into the crowd.
Ogunbowale later posted on Twitter that she was trying to play the carom like a soccer ball and hadn’t meant to kick it into the stands. She linked to a video of herself kicking a basketball while playing at Notre Dame.
“If you know me you know I was a soccer player first,” she wrote. “Literally every practice and game I stop the basketball with my feet, pass it to my teammates with my feet etc. Ball comes at me fast I always stop the ball with my feet it’s just my first instinct.
“I was in NO WAY trying to kick the ball. The half was over I tried to control the ball with my feet like I always do if the ball comes @ me fast. To be ejected for something like this is wild. From here on out I’ll try to remember WNBA refs aren’t fans of soccer players. #Go Wings”
However, Ogunbowale also kicked at the extended scorer’s table at the end of the Wings’ loss at Los Angeles on May 31 after she missed a free throw and then was called for a violation after pump-faking on the second. The free throws could have tied the game.
Dallas coach Vickie Johnson referenced that when asked about Ogunbowale’s ejection Sunday.
“That incident happened in L.A. as well,” Johnson said. “We’re not on the soccer field, we’re on the basketball court and you have to respect the game, period. We play basketball with our hands.”
The Wings dropped to 6-7 with the loss. Ogunbowale, who led Notre Dame to the 2018 NCAA title and was the No. 5 draft pick in 2019 by Dallas, is averaging 17.5 points per game this season. She was 1-of-7 for a season-low two points in the first half Sunday before the ejection.
As for potential team discipline of Ogunbowale, Johnson said she would need to speak to Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb.
“We have talked about it, but that’s something Greg and I have to discuss a little bit more,” Johnson said. “When it affects the team, it affects all of us.”