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, June 22, 2015

WNBA: Mystics Look to Even Home Record Off Winless Sparks

By Rob Knox @knoxrob1

WASHINGTON --
Emma Meesseman’s name appears frequently in several individual statistical categories as The second-year forward has been a consistent tower of power for the Washington Mystics through the first six games.

Cementing her status as a leading contender for next month’s All-Star presented by Boost Mobile game, Meesseman leads the Mystics in scoring (14.3 points per game, 12th in the league), rebounding (7.8, sixth), blocked shots (2.17, tied for second) and field goal percentage (56.1 percent, seventh).

Despite her early season brilliance, Meesseman remains somewhat a secret nationally.

That will change as the Mystics (4-2 overall) host the depleted and winless Los Angeles Sparks (0-4) Tuesday night at the Verizon Center in a contest broadcast on ESPN2 beginning at 8:00 p.m. It will be the Mystics only scheduled regular season appearance on the ESPN family of networks.

The Mystics swept both meetings against the Sparks last season. One of those matchups was a thrilling triple-overtime contest at the Verizon Center. They will play again on September 3 at the Staples Center.

Meesseman prefers dominating games the way she has -- away from the bright television lights.

However, it’s hard to stay anonymous when Meesseman has scored 20 or more points in the Mystics last two home games.

She recorded her first double-double (24 points, 10 rebounds) in the Mystics' 84-80 loss to Tulsa on Friday night. In her last two home games, Meesseman has averaged 23.5 points per game.

While the scoring is nice, Washington wants to get that winning feeling back at the Verizon Center. The Mystics are 1-2 at home this season and a perfect 3-0 while sporting the bright road reds.

Proving that they are far from a one-woman team, the Mystics have been getting contributions from everybody.

What a national audience will witness Tuesday night is that veteran All-Star guard Ivory Latta’s shooting stroke has returned.

The former North Carolina star scored a season-high 24 points to help the Mystics beat the Indiana Fever Saturday at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. She has nine three-pointers in her last three games and is averaging 16 points during that span.

For the season, Latta is tied for 17th in scoring (13.0 points per game). The Mystic youngsters have made a nice impact for a team that hasn’t been at full strength.

With Kia Vaughn only playing one game, second-year Stefanie Dolson has been a perfect complement to Meesseman.

Dolson, who is averaging 11.1 points per game, is tied for sixth in blocked shots (1.5) and ninth in rebounding (6.8). Kara Lawson is averaging 8.7 points per game and is seventh in the league in assists per game (4.5).

Tayler Hill has been a spark of the bench for Washington, scoring 7.7 points per outing. She has made at least one three-pointer in every game this season.

Rookie Ally Malott has posted double-digits in two of the Mystics last three games. She scored a career-high 13 points against Tulsa.

Malott is shooting a league-best 62.5 percent from three-point distance. Malott will meet up against her former Dayton teammate Andrea Hoover, who plays for the Sparks. They helped the Flyers advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament earlier this year.

Rookie Natasha Cloud out of Saint Joseph's scored nine points in the win over the Fever and is 10th in the WNBA in assists per game (3.3).

Meanwhile, the Sparks are literally limping into this contest.

Off to their worst start in franchise history, Los Angeles has been without the services of Candace Parker, Kristi Toliver and Nneka Ogwumike all season.

Leading-scorer Alana Beard has missed the last two games. Erin Phillips didn’t play in Sunday’s 76-68 loss to the Connecticut Sun.

The status of Ogwumike, Beard and Phillips for the Mystics game is uncertain.

Despite missing those talented players, the Sparks still feature two of the top players in the league in Jantel Lavender and Temeka Johnson.

Lavender averages 12.8 points per contest and is second in the WNBA in rebounding at 11.0 per game. She’s one of two players in the league averaging double-digit rebounds. Johnson leads the league in assists (6.3).

The duo shined against the Sun. Lavender had a season-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, for her third double-double of the season. Johnson, who recorded a triple-double last season playing for Seattle, scored 15 points with a season-best 10 assists for the Sparks. Johnson needs six steals to reach 300 for her career and 15 assists for 1,300.

Marianna Tolo and Farhiya Abdi scored 12 points each for the Sparks, who are on a week-long three-game east coast trip.

Los Angeles has led at halftime in its last three games.

Unfortunately for the Sparks, they were unable to close out. In the second half of all three games, the opponents took charge with a combined 52.2% shooting performance compared to the Sparks 32.1% field goal accuracy during that period.

Both teams return to action on Friday. The Mystics visit Atlanta and the Sparks visit Connecticut.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

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