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, July 23, 2014

WNBA REPORT: Latta Powers Washington Past Connecticut

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

Ivory Latta punctuated her monster fourth quarter scoring spree by draining a 3-pointer with under a minute remaining and while running back down the floor on defense, pointing at Wizard guard John Wall, who was sitting courtside.

Like a bottle of carbonated diet soda mixed with Mentos candy, Latta erupted in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of her game-high 23 points to fuel the Washington Mystics to an 89-75 victory over the Connecticut Sun Wednesday afternoon at the Verizon Center.

In scoring 20 or more points for the second time this season, Latta was unstoppable and entertaining during the Mystics’ 30-point fourth quarter surge.

“We had to do the little things down the stretch to get the win,” Latta said. “We had to stop them from getting second chance points and when we did, we kind of controlled the game.

"At that point, I knew somebody had to take control of the game and luckily I was able to do that. When I get going, everybody does well. Coach told me to control the tempo and that’s what I tried to do.”

Among the crowd was Women's Basketball Hall of Famer Sylvia Hatchell who was Latta's college coach and for whom the former Tar Heels star works as an assistant in the winter.

Celebrating her second consecutive All-Star selection, Latta treated the energetic gaggle of thunder-stick banging youth campers wearing a kaleidoscope of bright colored t-shirts from fluorescent teal to orange to a fourth quarter takeover that had to be witnessed to be believed.

When Latta was done burning the nets, she turned those duties over to rookie Stefanie Dolson, who scored nine of her 13 points in the final period.

Latta and Dolson were a combined 9-for-12 shooting in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Sun, 21-16. Dolson finished one point away from tying her career high.

In building off the momentum generated by a 3-2 road trip, the Mystics (11-13 overall) moved into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with the Indiana Fever.

“That road trip was so big for us,” Latta said. “We did an outstanding job. I think it gave us the momentum going into this stretch of games. We came together well during that trip. We realized that we can be as good as we want to be. We know we can’t let anybody control the way we play. We control our destiny going forward.”

As has become its modus operandi, it was far from a one-woman show for Washington, which defeated Connecticut for the third time this season to clinch the series.

Also reaching double figures for Washington, winners of four of its last five games, was Monique Currie (17 points), Bria Hartley (11) and Emma Meesseman (10).

Another key to the Mystics victory was committing one turnover in the fourth quarter while forcing Connecticut into a 5-for-15 shooting performance.

“This is a good win for us especially here at home because we haven’t won as many games here as we would’ve liked to,” Hartley said. “It’s awesome to watch Ivory when she gets into that zone. She was making plenty of plays which helped our team get going.”

It took a little time in the fourth quarter for the Mystics to impose their will on Connecticut, who built a 65-61 lead with 8 minutes, 38 seconds remaining following a pair of foul shots from rookie Chiney Ogwumike. A little while later, Latta’s 3-pointer gave the Mystics the lead for good, 68-66 with 6:52 remaining. That basket was part of a bigger 12-1 Washington run that turned the game.

Prior to that burst, the game was an entertaining tug-of-war between a pair of teams trying to improve possible playoff positioning. There were seven ties including 38-38 at halftime and 59-59 at the end of the third quarter along with nine lead changes.

Dolson delivered better than Dominos during the fourth quarter. She drained a 12-foot baseline jumper off of a Latta pass that cut the Sun’s edge to 66-65. Then, with 3:04 remaining, Dolson completed an old-fashioned 3-point play that gave Washington an 80-70 bulge.

“She played big for us today down the stretch and I am proud of her,” Latta said of Dolson. “She’s capable of doing that every night so we’re definitely looking forward to her doing that and giving her the ball down there so she can keep scoring.”

The Sun (10-15) was paced by Ogwumike’s 18 points and 10 rebounds. Kelsey Bone and Alex Bentley scored 15 points each. Bentley, who handed out nine assists, insisted the Sun are not down following the road setback.

“We just got away from our defensive execution in the fourth quarter and that led to their baby run,” Bentley said.

“We broke down on a couple of plays. We have to stay focused on defense for 40 minutes. It’s a dogfight and there are nine games left with everybody trying to get into the playoffs. We’ll keep working and fighting until the season is finished and see where we are.”

The Mystics will host high-scoring Tulsa Friday night at 7:00 p.m. Tulsa’s dynamic backcourt of Odyssey Sims and Skylar Diggins combined for 73 points in Tuesday’s setback to San Antonio.

The Sun will host Maya Moore and the Minnesota Lynx Sunday afternoon at 3:00. Moore dropped 48 points, three shy of Riquia Williams’ single-game record set last year, in a thrilling double overtime victory over Atlanta on Tuesday night.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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