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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WNBA Report: Phoenix Extends Washington's Losing Streak

By Megan Nipe

Tuesday night, the Washington Mystics took on Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and the rest of the Phoenix Mercury at home in the Verizon Center for their third game in five days.

With four Mercury players in double figures, the Mystics fell to the second highest scoring team in the league, 81-66, and dropped below .500 at 4-5 after suffering their third staight loss that follows a three-game win streak.

Brittney Griner, who came alive in the second half, finished the game with 20 points and 6 rebounds, and Temple graduate Candice Dupree ended with 16 points and 8 rebounds.

Additionally, Diana Taurasi, the former University of Connecticut great, finished with 10 assists and 13 points for the Merury (6-2), while DeWanna Bonner had 14 points.

"We have a good mix in that any given night anyone could be the factor, which is good for us," said Tarausi, an 11-year veteran who on Monday picked up her 17th player of the week award out of the Western Conference to near a WNBA record.

"Obviously, this year 'BG' is playing at a whole different level, joining some of the older players," Tarausi grinned and nodded to 13-year veteran Penny Taylor sitting alongside her.

The Mystics' Emma Messeman was the only player for Washington in double figures with 14 points and 7 rebounds,

For much of the first half, the Mystics did a good job at keeping up.

Messeman had an early six points for the Mystics, which kept them tied 8-8 midway through the first quarter.

She kept the trend going with two more buckets and she led all scorers with 10 points as the Mystics and Phoenix were tied again at 15. The first quarter ended on a couple Phoenix jumpers and the Mystics went down 24-19.

Back-to-back defensive violations for both teams started the second quarter, but lack of a dead ball gave Monique Currie a chance to get into a groove and score back to back jumpers, bringing the Mystics within 3 (26-29).

Phoenix’s Anete Zogota gave the Mystics another possession after committing an offensive foul and a lay-up by Hawkins forces the Mercury to take a timeout.

Soon after, a jumper over Griner’s outstretched arm by Kia Vaughn gave Washington the first lead of the game at 30-29.

The Mystics continued to get open looks, but shooting just 12.5% from the three-point line cost the Mystics a chance to gain any substantial lead.

“Our primary guards were 8-29, and were just not making three’s.” said Mystics head coach Mike Thibault.

Messeman, the first half Washington leader, got her third foul and found herself on the bench.

However, the Mystics were able to hold on and they went into halftime tied with Phoenix at 37.

The start to the second half proved rough for the Mystics.

Two back-to-back buckets by Griner, who hadn’t been much of a scoring threat in the first half, put Phoenix up by four (41-37) and forced Thibault to call a quick timeout.

Three additional buckets by Phoenix gave them a ten-point lead, the largest of the game thus far, and forced another Washington timeout.

Griner, the number one overall pick in the draft a year ago out of Baylor, became the player to stop in the second half scoring nine points in under 5 minutes to give her 13 points.

However, coming out from halftime, she wasn’t even challenged to score more, she was challenged to rebound.

Referring to a conversation her coach had with Griner in the locker room, Griner remembered, “She said, ‘Don’t worry about the shot, just go get the boards.’ The second half I just wanted to go in and do what she said.”

With the effort to get to the glass and be more aggressive, Griner's length eventually proved to be the defensive challenge inside for the Mystics.

Rookie Stephanie Dolson, one of two Mystics rookies from UConn landing in Washington in the first round, found herself with four fouls, three coming in the third quarter, and Griner wasn’t fazed.

The other former UConn star is Bria Hartley.

"Any win is good," said Phoenix first-year coach Sany Brondello, a former WNBA player out of Australia. "The first half to tell the truth, I wasn't happy with it. I thought we were a little stagnant.

"Offense is more about ball player movement and in the first half we tried to do a little too much on the first action. But in the second half, as long as we were cutting and passing and moving, that's when your offense works best and you can share the ball."

When asked why they didn’t focus more on Griner, Thibault points out Phoenix is also the best 3-point shooting team. Doubling teaming in the post could definitely hurt more than it may help.

The third quarter ended with the Mystics down seven points, 53-60.

The Mercury kept a pretty steady lead through the fourth quarter as Griner and Dupree led all scorers with 20 and 16 points, respectively.

A jumper by Bria Hartley brought the Mystics back within seven with just over four minutes to play, but the scoring capabilities of Phoenix took over and with a minute left, Thibault called a timeout as the Mystics were down 63-77.

The clock ran out for Washington as they lost to the Mercury by 15 points.

The Mystics now get a couple of days off before hosting the Chicago Sky, which is in their own tailspin, while Phoenix continues to its fourth stop Thursday night on a five-game road trip when the Mercury visits the Connecticut Sun where Tarausi will make her annual homecoming appearance.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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