'It's embarrassing for our sport.': Duke University women's basketball coach says her team played first half with the wrong ball

Kara Lawson stands on the sideline.
Kara Lawson stands on the sideline.  
  • During a postgame interview on Thursday, Duke University coach Kara Lawson spoke passionately about the team's Sunday game.

  • According to Lawson, her players complained about the basketball during the first half of the game against FSU.

  • While Lawson alleges it was men's basketball used in the first half, the ACC and FSU concluded otherwise, per ESPN.

The coach of the Duke University women's basketball team expressed her disdain for how an alleged ball mix-up was handled after a Thursday game.

Coach Kara Lawson ended her news conference after Duke's win against the University of Pittsburgh by calling out her issues during a previous game against Florida State. According to Lawson, the Blue Devils and Seminoles spent the first half of Sunday's game playing with a men's basketball. Duke went on to lose the matchup by 13 points, 57-70.

"This would never happen in a men's game. This would never happen," she said at the postgame conference. "It's embarrassing for our sport."

Lawson said her players complained about the ball, making seven shots out of 34 attempts in the first 20 minutes of the game. Their opponents made 10 of their 30 shots in the first half, ESPN reported.

Basketballs used by men in the NBA and at the college-level have a circumference of about 29.5 inches while balls used by the WNBA and women's college teams are 28.5 inches, according to digital sports publication Stack.com. Lawson and her team allege the correct balls were swapped in after Duke assistant coach Winston Gandy alerted officials at halftime.

"To have a game that, at the end of the season, could be the difference between a seed, between a title, my players don't deserve that and neither do their players," she said in the news conference.

Despite her outrage, Atlantic Coast Conference and Florida State officials concluded the ball used during the first half of Sunday's game, which was played in Florida, wasn't a men's basketball.

"Following the thorough and objective review process, there was no evidence found to support the claim," the conference said in a statement, per ESPN. "Per NCAA playing rules, there is no appeal or protest process."

Despite Lawson's concerns about the balls used during the game, she gave Florida State credit for the win.

"Let me be clear: Florida State beat us. They beat us playing with a men's ball in the first half and a women's ball in the second half," Lawson said. "But I can't say if we'd have played with a women's ball in the first half and the second half that we would have won. But they can't say that either."

Duke has a 9-2 record this season in the ACC and is 19-3 overall.


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