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New York Liberty's Walt Hopkins slams officials after WNBA playoff loss to Phoenix Mercury

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic

The New York Liberty lost a heartbreaking WNBA playoff game to the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday night, 83-82.

Correction: The referees lost the game for the Liberty against the Mercury.

At least that is where Liberty coach Walt Hopkins pointed the blame after his team's season ended at GCU Arena in Phoenix.

After the game, Hopkins slammed how officials called the game against his team, and how they called the season against his team.

“There are a lot of things I want to say about the officiating in the WNBA and about the lack of respect this team’s gotten all season,” Hopkins told reporters, via Just Women's Sports. “But I can’t say that because referees are above reproach. They don’t have to go to a press conference after games. They don’t have to explain the mistakes they made, why they did what they do.

“I don’t know where the accountability’s gonna come from, but it needs to happen. It was a bad season. The way they treated us was bad.”

More:Moore: Phoenix Mercury playoff win over New York raises as many questions as it answers

Hopkins blasted the free-throw disparity in the game and said his team "doesn't get respect" because of its youth.

“There were multiple plays where we didn’t just get calls, a free-throw discrepancy … it was 18-7 tonight,” Hopkins said.

“If anyone wants to say it’s because we shoot a lot of threes, well we outscored them in the paint, 34-30. It’s not because we don’t go to the rim. It’s because we don’t get respect because we’re a young team.”

Twenty-two fouls were called on the Liberty in the game, while the Mercury were called for 15 fouls.

Phoenix went 15-for-18 from the free throw line, while New York ended up 6-for-7.

More:Phoenix Mercury rally past New York Liberty in WNBA first round playoff thriller

The Liberty's Betnijah Laney drives to the basket as Mercury guard Kia Nurse defends during the third quarter of the first round WNBA play-off game at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix on September 23, 2021.The Mercury won the game 83-82 and advance to the next round.

The Mercury (20-13), the No. 5 seed, advanced to face the Seattle Storm in the next round with the victory.

The Liberty, the No. 10 seed, ended the season with a 12-21 record.

Sophie Cunningham scored a career high 21 points, hitting 6-of-7 from 3-point range, as the Mercury overcame a four-point halftime deficit then held off the Liberty in a frantic finish to advance.

“Sometimes in the playoffs you’ve got to win ugly,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said after the game. “We had to grind it out. They made us work for it. Also you need a bit of luck. I’m just happy we were able to survive."

Just Women's Sports contributed to this story.

Reach Jeremy Cluff at jeremy.cluff@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jeremy_Cluff.

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