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.

Friday, July 25, 2014

WNBA Report: Vaughn Rescues Washington To Turn Back Tulsa

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

Snoozing through a tough fourth quarter, the Washington Mystics needed somebody to make a play down the stretch to prevent an epic collapse against the Tulsa Shock Friday night at the Verizon Center.

Enter Kia Vaughn, a Rutgers product in her second year with the Mystics.

Vaughn came through with a pair of plays that steadied a wobbly Mystic team, created a seismic momentum shift and helped them hold off the Shock, 82-77 in a thriller.

Extending its winning streak to three games wasn’t easy as Washington played a furiously fought, but frightfully-flawed fourth quarter.

However, thanks to Vaughn’s timely efforts, the Mystics lived to tell and smile about it.

It was a game with bizarre stats for the winning team -- like former Duke star Monique Currie going 16-18 from the foul line for all of her points while shooting 0-3 from the field.

A team spokesman said that was a record in the WNBA.

Then there's the fact that in the fourth quarter Washington was 1-for-13 from the field -- the one being Kara Lawson's basket from the corner with 45.9 seconds left to play -- and still won.

But in the end, all that matters is that the Mystics improved to 12-13 overall and climbed into second place in the Eastern Conference standings ahead of idle Indiana. Tulsa dropped to 8-17 overall after suffering its ninth loss by five points or less this season.

With the Mystics clinging to a 70-69 lead with less than two minutes remaining, Vaughn made two foul shots, blocked a Glory Johnson shot attempt that led to a pair of Bria Hartley free throws and recorded an assist on Kara Lawson’s baseline jumper, which ended a string of 13 straight Washington missed shots to start the fourth quarter.

When asked about the blocked shot, Vaughn admitted to having some extra aderaline at that point of the game.

“It was natural instinct,” Vaughn said of her huge blocked shot. “I had some juice underneath me when I was elbowed in the face earlier. Right now I don’t think we’ve reached our peak as a team where everybody can be great.

"Tonight was a test of our character and he we’re built as a team. We were able to stay focused, stick together as a team and make some plays when it mattered.”

Ivory Latta led Washington with 17 points while Currie had nine rebounds to go with her 16 points from the charity stripe. Hartley finished with 11 points.

Washington ultimately made 12 of 15 free throws in the final quarter to post consecutive home victories for the first time this season.

The hard-luck Shock trailed 68-53 entering the fourth quarter before Johnson and Skylar Diggins fueled a big rally.

Diggins scored a game-high 19 points and handed out five assists.

Johnson scored eight of her 15 points in the final frame.

Courtney Paris scored 10 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for her 10th double-double. Odyssey Sims had 14 points and seven rebounds.

The Shock attempted 20 more shots than the Mystics (84-64) and won the rebounding battle, 43-41, but still ended up on the short end of the scoreboard. Washington was 26-of-32 from the foul line while Tulsa attempted 16 foul shots. Currie attempted 18 free throws.

“We fought hard,” Johnson said. “We worked hard on offense, but didn’t make the shots we normally make. We wanted to finish strong especially on defense, which is what we did as a team tonight and didn’t give up. I saw Kia when I went up for the shot. I thought I was going to get a finger roll or an and-one there.”

In building a 49-37 halftime lead, the Mystics shot 48.7 percent (18-for-37) from the field. Latta was 4-of-7 shooting in scoring 11 first half points while Emma Meesseman made all four of her first half shot attempts for eight points. Lawson also came off the bench to make three of her four shots for seven points.

Defensively, the Mystics did a good job on Sims and Diggins forcing the duo into a combined 9-of-20 shooting effort for 19 points. Neither player made a 3-pointer in the first half.

“We played better defense in the fourth quarter and gave ourselves a chance to win the game,” Diggins said. “We kept fouling, which helped them put points on the board.”

Both teams return to action Sunday afternoon. Washington closes out its three-game homestand against East leading Atlanta at 4:00 p.m. Tulsa begins a stretch of four consecutive home games against Chicago at 3:30 p.m.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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