After reviewing what transpired in Saturday night's brawl between the Dallas Wings and Phoenix Mercury, the WNBA has reached a verdict.
The league announced Tuesday that it has issued two-game suspensions to Kristine Anigwe and Kayla Thornton for their roles in the altercation. Kaela Davis received a one-game suspension and $500 fine for leaving the bench and engaging with the other team. The Mercury's Brittney Griner was suspended for three games for throwing punches and escalating the event.
The WNBA stated Anigwe's suspension was for initiating the initial altercation and for taking an open-handed swing at Griner while Thornton's was a result of her escalating the situation.
Davis will not serve her suspension until Sunday, when Dallas visits Connecticut, because of injuries to Tayler Hill and Azura Stevens and a league rule requiring teams to have a minimum of eight players dressed for all games.
"Like I said yesterday, we're concerned about the people that are here," coach Brian Agler said after the Wings' Tuesday practice. "With eight players, everybody's going to get an opportunity tomorrow. Megan (Gustafson), Imani (McGee-Stafford)."
"Those two are going to get a lot of playing time just because of our numbers. It'll be a great opportunity for these people."
The brawl occurred with 6:23 remaining in the fourth quarter when Anigwe, a recent trade acquisition, got tangled up with All-Star Brittney Griner below the basket.
What ensued was the ex-Baylor star Griner chasing Anigwe, throwing punches as she ran to the opposite end of the court. In the process, Thornton took a hit from Griner and Agler was wedged against the scorer's table in the middle of the brawl.
"I thought, for the most part, we did pretty well. Kristine got out of there, tried to get away from the confrontation. From that standpoint she did the right thing," Agler said after Monday's practice. "For the most part, our players stayed on the sideline, tried to be peacemakers. I think Kayla Thornton initially was a peacemaker as well, and then it got really tangled up over there."
In her first public comments on Monday since the fight, Griner expressed her frustration toward the league.
"How they handle this will determine a lot about the future," Griner, who's in the final year of her Mercury contract, told AZCentral.com. "Because how can I fight for some league that doesn't even want to protect their players? They better hope our coaches and GM [Jim Pitman] don't go anywhere and DB [DeWanna Bonner] plays here forever. Because I'll be done in a heartbeat if I was anywhere else."
Thornton, who has been the Wings' vocal leader this season, leaped to the defense of her new teammate Anigwe with the 6-9, 205-pound Griner chasing after her. Thornton was restrained by teammates and coaches.
"Whatever happens, I'm going to take it," Thornton said Monday before the suspensions were announced. "I'll just be here supporting them during practices, helping them get better and stuff like that and just keeping my voice in their ear and keeping them steadfast."