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.

Monday, May 19, 2014

WNBA Report: Washington Rallies Extinguished in Season-Opening Loss to Minnesota

(Guru's note: Former George Washington star Megan Nipe, who went through her second graduation this past weekend, is joiuning team Guru this summer primarily handling the Washington Mystics with Rob Knox also at times handling games at the Verizon Center in the nation's capital.

Megan was on hand Friday night for the Mystics opener and filed but the Guru, given the amount of ongoing communiation involving last weekend's tragedy in Richmond, indavertently missed the arrival.

Though the defending champion Minnesota Linx moved on to home Sunday and had their own spectacular comeback to beat the Connecticut Sun, the Guru feels you should not be deprived of Megan's debut.
)

By Megan Nipe

WASHINGTON --
Relentless. That is the Washington Mystics motto for this season, and they wasted no time putting themselves to the test.

For the Mystics home opener, Friday night, they took on the WNBA defending champions, the Minnesota Lynx, whom they swept last season in the two-game cross-divisional contests.

The streak, which was a factor in the Mystics' return to the playoffs, stopped quickly as Minnesota left town with an 89-77 victory by stopping two Washington rallies.

Former UConn star Maya Moore did the primary damage with 34 points, while Seimone Augustus scored 24, and Lindsay Whalen scored 10.

The trio were on the 2012 Olymnpic gold medalists and if the trio returns to the national team this year for the world championship in Turkey they'll have a familiar face because this past week their coach Cheryl Reeve was named to the staff as an assistant to Geno Auriemma.

Damiris Dantas grabbed 12 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Washington got 25 points from former North Carolina star Ivory Latta while another ex-Tar Heel, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, scored 17 points.

In frontan excited Verizon Center crowd, the Mystics held possession from the opening tip, but early missed jumpers and missed communications on defense hurt.

The Lynx jumped out to an early lead with guard Moore scoring 9 points in only 5 minutes of play.

Mystics’ veteran Monique Currie found herself with two fouls in the first four minutes and headed to the bench early in the first half.

With three minutes to go in the first quarter, the Lynx had found a comfortable lead over the Mystics at 23-8.

Ruffin-Pratt, a second-year player for the Mystics, seemed to be the only scoring threat for Washington in the first quarter with deven points in six minutes of play. For the Lynx, Moore was the one to stop. She poured in 14 points in the first quarter alone.

However, the Mystics seemed to come alive in the second quarter.

Rookie and first-round draft pick Stephanie Dolson out of the two-time defending NCAA champion UConn squad hit the first jumper in her professional career.

Right after her first, came her second… then her third.

The trend of the first half seemed to be that the youngest Mystics were keeping Washington in reach of the defending champs.

With a little over two minutes to go in the second half, the Mystics cut the lead to two points on a pair of free throws from Currie and moments later the former Duke star tied the game on a fast break pass from Latta.

The crowd was on its feet.

The score heading into halftime was 43-39 in favor of Minnesota.

The scoring dominators part way through the third quarter were both from the Lynx: Augustus with 20 points and Moore with 25. However, the Mystics’ Latta reawakened the team in the second half.

Three treys in a row made Latta the only double figure scorer on the Mystics bringing Washington within four points with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.

Moments later, a foul by Pratt on a 3-pointer gave Moore two points on three foul shot attempts.

Better ball movement in the second half gave Washington open 3-pointers and brought Pratt into double figures along with Latta heading into the fourth quarter down three points.

The final quarter started on a high note for Washington.

A quick double-dish from Latta to Dolson to Tianna Hawkins put the Mystics within one, and a missed lay-up by Moore and a 3-pointer by Pratt gave the Mystics its first lead of the game.

Unfortunately, this was the only lead the Mystics would see.

Missed jumpers by the Lynx allowed Washington to stay in the game, but not being able to convert on the other end and unforced turnovers or fouls kept the Mystics from retaining any lead.

Latta and Pratt were the leaders for Washington, as noted at the outset of this report.

but their efforts couldn’t seem to match Moore and Augustus.

Lynx point guard Whalen also had 10 points, as noted in the opening here, but she also grabbed ninerebounds and dealt assists for the night.

Despite multiple comeback attempts, the Mystics weren”t able to overcome the core group of Lynx players that had won the WNBA championship just last summer.

Mystics head coach, Mike Thibault, spoke of the Lynx, noting that “it’s not an accident they’re a championship team.”

He felt as though his players competed but made inexperienced mistakes.

While the team is still in the “developmental” stage, Thibault says that they have to live with some growing pains that come along with having a young team and playing together for the first time.

Washington will take the lessons learned and continue to move forward as they prepare for Friday’s game in Indiana against the Fever before returning here Saturday night to host the Seattle Storm in their first back-to-back games of the season.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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