Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner was one of six players ejected from her team’s game against the Dallas Wings on Saturday. The ejections occurred when after Griner took exception to getting punched in the head while going for a rebound and began to chase Dallas’ Kristine Anigwe—the puncher in question—down the court. A scuffle then broke out as Griner had to be restrained from getting to Anigwe. After a long video review, the near-brawl’s main characters were ejected along with Diana Taurasi, Briann January, Kayla Thornton and Kaela Davis.
Jeff Matcalfe of the Arizona Republic reports that Griner did not talk to reporters after the game, but guard Diana Taurasi did to defend her actions.
“Today I went on the court to make sure my teammate didn’t get jumped,” Taurasi said. “(Griner) got punched in the face and then someone ran on her back and threw punches at her face. I would do that 100 times out of 100 times.”
Also speaking to the media was another Phoenix teammate, Leilani Mitchell, who went to bat for Griner.
“Anigwe was doing the same thing to BG [Griner] a couple of weeks ago in Connecticut,” Mitchell told Dallas News’ Selby Lopez. “We just watched the replay and she punched BG first so of course, you can’t be mad at BG, she has to protect herself. It got out of hand, that’s on the refs, they have to stop that earlier.”
Mitchell is right in the sense that officials should have a better understanding of when things might pop off like this, but the kind of watchful eye she’s asking for might be a bit much given that how long it took get the punishments right in a situation where the fight’s instigators seemed pretty obvious—something that Wings star Skylar Diggins-Smith voiced frustrations about on Twitter.
No word on what kind of outside punishment these players will face. What is known, however, is that the fight seemed to work out in Dallas’ favor with an 80-77 win.