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.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

WNBA Report: Coleman Stars in Her Own Homecoming as Indiana Surge Overcomes Washington

( Guru's note. Directly under this post is an interview with Fever rookie and former Penn State star Maggie Lucas out of philly. The Guru is planning to head Mohegan Sat and then back to NY Sunday where he may be making a guess sub for @dougfeinberg, who is on another AP assignment.)

By Rob Knox

Indiana forward Marissa Coleman enjoyed a memorable homecoming by scoring a season-high 20 points, one off her career best, as the Fever rallied from a 16-point first half deficit to defeat Washington, 64-61, in a key early season Eastern Conference battle Friday night at the Verizon Center.

With the triumph, the Fever (4-3 overall) extended their winning streak to four games while simultaneously ending the Mystics (4-3) string of three straight victories.

Making the victory sweeter for the Fever was they played without reigning WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week and leading scorer Briann January, who sat out with an injured ankle.

Playing a hop, skip and a jump from her hometown of Cheltenham (Md) and against the team that drafted her second overall in the 2009 WNBA Draft, Coleman, who starred in college just up the road at Maryland, found the range in the second quarter by scoring eight points after the Fever fell behind, 23-7 90 seconds into the frame.

Incidentally, Terrapins coach Brenda Frese was in the house to watch some of her former players on both teams.

“It’s always fun to come home and play in front of my family and friends,” Coleman said. “I am extremely blessed to have a strong support system behind me. I knew coming into the game tonight with Bri being out, I was going to have to step up and become more aggressive.”

Coleman also made four foul shots in the last two minutes that helped the Fever repel a late Washington rally. Overall, she was 8-for-8 from the foul line.

She’s beginning to get comfortable with her new squad as this was her third straight game reaching double figures in scoring. Coleman is averaging 11.7 points during Indiana’s winning roll, which they will attempt to continue Saturday night on a back-to-back when the Fever visit the Connecticut Sun in Uncasville.

Washington will play its third game in four days Sunday when the Mystics visit the New York Liberty in Madison Square Garden.

Thanks to Coleman’s energy and marksmanship, Indiana’s shooting woes to begin the game, which included a hideous stretch in which it missed 14 straight shots, were a humorous memory by the time the crowd headed into the cool D.C. night.

“It was extremely frustrating to miss so many shots at the start of the game,” Coleman said. “We knew we couldn’t dwell on it too much because if we did, it would have affected us the rest of the game.

"We did a great job after the first quarter of putting that behind us. This was a nice team win for us on the road against a good team. This win shows what kind of fight we have.”

Coleman helped steady the Fever until their tenacious defense could take over in the third quarter and give them control of the game.

Indiana outscored the Mystics, 24-9, to reverse a 35-26 halftime deficit. During the third quarter, the Fever’s tourniquet-like defense limited the Mystics to 2-of-12 shooting from the floor and forced seven turnovers.

Erlana Larkins outscored Washington in the third quarter, 10-9.

Larkins finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals in 33 entertaining minutes. In moving above .500 for the first time this season, Indiana got contributions from former Pittsburgh star Shavonte Zellous (nine points), and rookies Natasha Howard (seven points) out of Florida State and Philly's Maggie Lucas (six points) out of Penn State.

“I thought the one thing we did well tonight was push the tempo,” soon-to-be Women's Basketball Hall of Fame coach Lin Dunn said. “We were hoping since it was a back to back that they would get fatigued by the end of the third quarter.

"I thought Erlana was a warrior tonight and she decided to pull her teammates along with her to help us win the ball game. I give Marissa a lot of credit; she hit a lot of big free throws. If we don’t hit free throws then we don’t win the game.”

Asked of her acceptance is finished for next Saturday's induction ceremonies in Knoville, Tennessee, Dunn, who is retiring after the season, quipped: "Of course. I only have five minutes. It takes that long to clear my throat."

Meanwhile, the Mystics placed three players in double figures led by rookie Bria Hartley’s 16 points. Ivory Latta added 12 points and rookie Stefanie Dolson contributed 10 points and nine rebounds.

Hartley scored five points over the final 17.7 seconds, but was unable to get off a quality look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer as time expired.

She had the move of the game with 17.7 seconds remaining. Driving to the basket, she unleashed a wicked crossover that cracked Lucas’ fibula and made her fall to the floor while putting the ball behind her back.

The play ended with Hartley scoring and converting the ensuing foul shot. She later scored with 10 seconds remaining to pull Washington to within, 62-61. Coleman made a pair of clutch freebies to help the Fever enjoy a happy trip to Connecticut.

“That’s my go-to move,” Hartley said. “I was trying to score and make a play for my team and that just happened to happen, but at the end of the day, we lost, so it doesn’t matter.

"I just think we made too many mental mistakes in the second half that hurt us tonight. We did a good job in the first half of getting stops, but in the third quarter, they were able to come down and score everytime. We got a few stops at the end, but it wasn’t enough.”

Lucas gave the Fever their first lead of the contest, 43-41 with a 3-pointer. She buried another triple with 5:51 remaining to give Indiana its largest bulge of the game, 59-49. The combination of Latta and Hartley fueled a late Mystic run that ultimately fell short and enabled Coleman to enjoy a wonderful visit home.

“We had to stay composed during their last run because we knew it was coming,” Coleman said. “If you looked at Washington’s last couple of games, they always seemed to go on those late runs, but I thought we did a good job of staying composed and making plays at the end of the game.”

The Guru contributed to this excellent effort by Rob.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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