The coach of the Duke women's basketball team has revealed that a men's ball was mistakenly used during one of her team's recent games.
The apparent mix-up came during the first half of the Blue Devils' game against Florida State on Sunday, coach Kara Lawson said after her team's win over Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
The ball used in women's basketball is smaller in circumference and lighter than the one deployed by their male counterparts.
Lawson made the unprompted revelation toward the end of her postgame press conference on Thursday night, the Associated Press reported. She said it was "embarrassing" for the sport.
“This would never happen in a men’s game," she said. "This would never happen. It’s embarrassing for our sport."
Lawson said her players were complaining about the ball throughout the first half of Sunday's game, which was won by the Seminoles.
Their apparent discomfort with the ball seemed to confirmed by the shooting statistics.
The Blue Devils were 7-for-34 from the field in the opening 20 minutes of that game, according to The AP. They improved to 12-for-38 in the second half. Meanwhile, Florida State made 10 of its 30 shots in the first two quarters, and 14 of 31 in the second half.
Lawson said a team investigation had confirmed the use of the men's ball, though the ACC and Florida State were "saying that it wasn't."
She added that calling out the apparent mix-up was not an attempt to make an excuse for losing the game.
"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, a former Tennessee Volunteers standout who starred in the WNBA for 13 seasons and won gold with the US national team, later worked as an analyst for ESPN and as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.
She said those responsible for the ball snafu had "failed the sport."
“It’s a complete failure. And you can figure out who the people I’m talking about that failed the sport and our players and both teams.”
Lawson said that the ACC has instituted a rule change under which players have to confirm the correct ball during the captains’ meeting before the tipoff.
“It’s very frustrating that (the game) ... was not treated with the utmost respect that players on both teams deserve,” she said.
This wasn’t the first time this has happened in women’s basketball. In 2017, the College of Charleston played home games and practiced with men’s balls for most of its season until the error was was discovered.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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