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WNBA suspends two players involved in fight

Saturday July 13, 2002

The fight followed a play in which a player was elbowed  

during a battle for a rebound 

NEW YORK — Latasha Byears and Michelle Marciniak were suspended Friday by the WNBA for their part in a fight the previous night. 

Byears, of the champion Los Angeles Sparks, was suspended for two games and fined $1,000. 

Marciniak, of the Seattle Storm, got a one-game suspension and a $500 fine. 

“It’s just what the league saw,” Sparks coach Michael Cooper said Friday. “(WNBA president) Val Ackerman has done a great job so far, and the governing body of that, that’s what they decided. Whenever there’s punches thrown, that player is going to get the more severe penalty.” 

Storm coach Lin Dunn said the team would appeal any suspension handed to Marciniak. 

Byears was dribbling on a fast break when Marciniak fouled her. Byears tossed the ball from close range off Marciniak’s face. Marciniak came at Byears with her hands up before Byears shoved her to the ground. 

Cooper, who already had a technical foul for arguing about the game’s physical play, charged onto the court. Both players were ejected with 9:51 left in the Storm’s 79-60 victory. 

The fight followed a play in which Sparks star Lisa Leslie and the Storm’s Lauren Jackson battled for a rebound and Leslie elbowed Jackson in the chest. No foul was called. 

“It’s part of the game of basketball. It was a very physical game last night,” Cooper said. “The officials called the game the way they saw it. That’s one of the things, one of those unfortunate incidents that happens in basketball. It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last time.” 

Byears’s suspension covers Friday night’s game at Portland and a July 17 game at Indiana. Marciniak’s suspension was for Friday night’s game against Cleveland.