Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

WNBA: Mystics Buzz Charlotte Sting Remain Perfect 5-0 at Home

By Mel Greenberg

WASHINGTON _
On a night when the suspense ended over who would be named to the WNBA’s All-Decade Team, the No. 1 question early in the Washington Mystics-Charlotte Sting encounter here was whether the Mystics might finally be prevented from reaching 90 points in the Verizon Center.

The answer is it didn’t happen, but an explosive second half, especially in the fourth quarter, brought Washington close enough.

Down 37-34 at the half, the Mystics reverted to their dominate home-court performance this season and raced to an 87-70 victory to stay perfect at 5-0 in the nation’s capital.

The 33 points in the fourth quarter matched a season high for a period that was set by Minnesota on June 2 in the third quarter of the Lynx’s league-record 114-71 triumph.

Of course, there’s still that nasty little difficulty winning on the road, which Washington will have to solve at some juncture to become a solid challenger to the Connecticut Sun in the Eastern Conference.

Perhaps that might happen on Thursday when the Mystics visit Charlotte for the second time this season. The Sting left here with some critical wounds when Penn State alum Helen Darling pulled a hamstring and Rutgers alum Tammy Sutton-Brown suffered a bruised right knee in the first half.

“In the first half, it was not a very good example of Mystics basketball,” Washington coach Richie Adubato said afterwards. “We tried to go one-on-one too much. We didn’t execute our offense, so therefore we wound up taking a lot of shots that were off-balance and weren’t the type of shots we want to take.”

The Mystics had four players score in double figures with Nikki Teasley pouring 19 points and dealing six assists, DeLisha Milton-Jones and Alana Beard adding 18 points, each, and Chasity Melvin getting 14 points off a perfect 3 for 3 from the field and 8 for 8 from the foul line, while also grabbing six rebounds.

Melvin, Milton-Jones, and Teasley each scored eight points in the decisive 33-18 fourth quarter.

“Chas had a very effective game for us, inside and out,” Adubato said of the former Cleveland Rocker who came to the Mystics in 2004 after that franchise folded. “Once we started executing, then DeLisha, Alana Beard and Nikki Teasley were able to shoot a high percentage.”

Tangela Smith led the Sting with 24 points and LaToya Bond scored 12 points as Charlotte fell to 2-5.

“The second half, I thought we turned it up a notch, defensively,” Adubato said. “We forced 26 turnovers (overall). That’s aggressiveness. That’s getting after the ball, that’s getting over screens, that’s putting a lot of pressure on the ball.

“Smith had a very good game and hurt us in transition.”

Adubato praised Crystal Robinson, the one starter who wasn’t in double figures.

“Crystal Robinson only scored two points, but she was incredibly good, defensively,: he said of the veteran who played for him with the New York Liberty. “If you watched her, first we had her on (Sherri) Sam, then we put her on (rookie Monique) Currie, then we put her on (Kelly) Mazzante.

“She just plays her heart out. You can’t pick her, she’s over every screen, you can’t get a shot off of her, and then she’s also stealing the ball or is responsible for some deflections that result in turning over the ball that turns into steals.”

Now the Mystics will try to steal another from Charlotte before returning here for Saturday’s game against the New York Liberty.

- Mel

(Note: The Guru’s All-Decade story is over on Philly.com after also appearing in the print edition of the Inquirer’s sports section.)

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