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.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

WNBA: Technical Score Aids Storm Victory

By Jonathan Tannenwald

WASHINGTON _ At halftime of the Washington Mystics’ game against the Seattle Storm, there were some fairly easy conclusions to draw about Seattle’s 36-22 lead Sunday night in the Verizon Center.

First, Mystics point guard Nikki Teasley’s injured fingers were clearly causing her some pain, as evidenced by her 0-for-5 shooting, no assists and three turnovers.

Second, the deficit wasn’t all Teasley’s fault, given that her team had committed 13 turnovers and converted only nine of its 31 field goal attempts.

And third, given the nature of basketball, and the streaky nature of the Mystics this season, there wasn’t any way the remaining 20 minutes would be that bad, was there?

Indeed, the Mystics roared back in the second half, scoring 27 points in the third quarter and 22 points in the fourth quarter. But Seattle was consistent through all four quarters, and was rewarded with a 73-71 win.

“It’s a hard loss for us to take,” Mystics coach Richie Adubato said. “It would have been a great comeback for us.”

Seattle’s last high-water mark on the scoreboard came with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter, when a three-pointer by Barbara Turner gave the Storm a 52-39 lead. The Mystics cut the lead down to five with a buzzer-beating jumper by Alana Beard, capping off a 10-2 run to end the quarter.

Washington scored the first four points of the fourth quarter, then took its first and only lead of the game, 60-59, on a pair of free throws by forward Chasity Melvin.

Seattle responded immediately, however, with a three-pointer from Iziane Castro Marquez, and the Mystics were forced to play catch-up for the rest of the game.

That Washington was even in such a situation was due almost entirely to Alana Beard. The star guard scored 21 of her career-high 30 points in the second half, including 15 in the third quarter.

But she did not want to take the credit for the comeback.

“I think the team did a great job of coming in and getting the job done in the second half, it wasn’t just me,” she said.

Seattle’s Lauren Jackson, who scored a team-high 18 points for the Storm, was nonetheless impressed. “There was nothing anybody could have done to stop her,” Jackson said of Beard.

But just when the crowd of 7,911 was at its loudest, things unraveled for the home team.

Down by three points with a minute remaining, Washington took the ball into Seattle’s half of the court, but DeLisha Milton-Jones was called for traveling.

On the ensuing Storm possession, Milton-Jones was called for her sixth foul. Adubato protested vehemently, arguing that the foul was actually committed by Melvin. He was assessed a technical foul, his second of the night, and was duly ejected.

Sue Bird hit two of three free throws, extending Seattle’s lead to five points, and the Mystics came no closer than two points for the rest of the game.

“We fought back gallantly,” Adubato said. “The people on the floor hustled and played as hard as we could.”

Adubato has often said that he tries to get technical fouls sometimes in order to fire up his team and the fans. He admitted, though, that his second technical was a mistake on his part.

“It’s absolutely unforgivable – I tell my players not to get them and I can’t get them in those situations,” he said. “It’s an emotion that I let get out of hand. I never have done that before, I’ve never gotten a technical foul inside two minutes.”

Indeed, like their coach’s emotions, the Mystics seemed to let this game get out of hand – at the beginning and at the end.

Guru's Note: When we last saw Barbara Turner on Saturday night in New York, she had suffered an undetermined knee injury in the third quarter against the Liberty and left Madison Square Garden on crutches.

Happily for the Storm, ensuing X-Rays were negative, she had suffered some sort of muscle injury, and was cleared to play if she felt well enough, which she did. - Mel

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