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WNBA star Arike Ogunbowale ejected for soccer instincts

WNBA star Arike Ogunbowale ejected for soccer instincts
Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale was averaging 18.8 points (fifth-best in the WNBA) this season before her ejection Sunday. (Credit: Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

ARLINGTON, Texas (BVM) – Arike Ogunbowale is one of the young stars of the WNBA, but Sunday afternoon at College Park Center, taking on the Seattle Storm, the Dallas Wings’ guard did not get a star call or a home call from the referee. 

A heave before the halftime buzzer ricocheted off the backboard heading Ogunbowale’s way and she stuck her foot out to stop it. The result of this innocent act? A prompt ejection from the game by the officials.

Regardless of intent, there wasn’t really anything the refs could do differently. Per WNBA rules, “kicking or throwing a ball with force which enters the stands is an automatic ejection.”

Ogunbowale would finish the day early after just 15 minutes of action scoring only two points. She now averages 17.5 points, good for the league’s ninth-best scoring mark this season.

The fourth-year pro out of Notre Dame was quite the soccer player before she gave it all up to focus on basketball in high school. Ogunbowale won four Wisconsin State Cup championships with FC Milwaukee (2009) and Lake Country United (2010-12). 

While it’s been nearly a decade since she took the pitch competitively, Ogunbowale has never been able to shake her soccer instincts even on the hardwood.

“If you know me you know I was a soccer player first,” Ogunbowale tweeted during the game following her ejection. “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. #GoWings”

Missing their offensive leader in Ogunbowale, the Wings (6-7) suffered their third straight loss falling to the Storm (8-5), 84-79. 

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